Toni-Marie Montgomery recovered from surgery and made the best of her second chance, becoming KU's fine arts dean.
An Arizona State University music school director will become the first black academic dean at Kansas University when she takes control of the School of Fine Arts in early 2000.
Toni-Marie Montgomery, an internationally known pianist, has directed ASU's School of Music since 1996.
"I feel very fortunate," she said Tuesday in an interview from Tempe, Ariz. "I feel my time at Arizona State, 10 years in January, trained me well to see all the aspects of fine arts."
"I can think of no opportunity more significant than beginning the year 2000 as the dean of the School of Fine Arts at KU."
Montgomery, 43, fills a vacancy created when Peter Thompson decided to step down after 13 years as dean. Carole Ross will remain interim dean until Montgomery arrives April 3.
Ross and Montgomery emerged as finalists after initial attempts by KU to fill the deanship faltered. Originally, a search committee had submitted a list of four finalists to Provost David Shulenburger. Neither Ross nor Montgomery was among the four.
Shulenburger's top choice, Temple University's Judith Thorpe, rejected KU's offer. Rather than choose from the remaining three nominees, Shulenburger reopened the search in May.
Ross, an associate dean in KU's fine arts school, applied for the deanship. Attention also returned to Montgomery, who months earlier had withdrawn from the search after having surgery.
A summer visit to KU went well, Montgomery said.
"I had never been in Kansas before," she said. "I was very much impressed by the support and interest in the school."
Shulenburger said Montgomery would "bring to KU her extraordinary talents as an artist, a skilled administrator, a collaborator and visionary leader."
Montgomery said it was premature to articulate details of a vision for the 1,300-student school.
"I truly believe the vision of a program doesn't come from the dean. It does involve everyone -- faculty, staff and students," she said.
Her overall goal would be to make KU's fine arts school among the top five in the nation.
"I see no reason why KU can't be among those premier institutions," she said.
A Philadelphia native, Montgomery has doctorate and master's degrees in piano from the University of Michigan. Her bachelor's degree in piano performance is from Philadelphia College of Performing Arts.
She became ASU's associate dean of fine arts in 1990. She also was assistant dean of fine arts at the University of Connecticut and assistant director of the music school at Western Michigan University.
Montgomery is a founding member of Black Music Repertory Ensemble, which specializes in works by black composers and promotes appreciation for black musical heritage.
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