Lawrence Mallett, 53, interim dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts in Lincoln, on Thursday was in Lawrence to sign the KU contract and to go house-hunting with his wife, Cathy, who has been hired to teach in the KU School of Education.
Mallett, who was offered the chair position seven to 10 days ago, will begin his duties on July 15. The couple expect to move to Lawrence in June.
"Dr. Mallett brings extensive experience to the department of music and dance," Toni-Marie Montgomery, dean of the KU School of Fine Arts, said. "I look forward to an exciting future for the department as Dr. Mallett assumes the central leadership position in the School of Fine Arts."
Mallett said the reputation of the KU music and dance department was what lured him away from Nebraska. The KU master's of fine arts degree program has been ranked 35th of nearly 300 accredited U.S. fine arts institutions by U.S. News and World Report.
"The future looks bright. There's the new addition (to Murphy Hall), the hiring of new faculty," he said in a phone interview from his Nebraska office. " " We can draw more students and better students and build on the quality and reputation of the program. Hopefully, I can help them (do that)."
He said his first order of business would be to "establish a vision for the department of music and dance" and then work toward attaining that vision and enhancing the reputation of the School of Fine Arts.
Mallett has served as interim director of the Hixson-Lied Center for a year. Prior to that, he was director of the University of Nebraska's School of Fine Arts, a post he held for seven years.
Mallett earned a bachelor's in music degree/clarinet performance from the University of Iowa, a master's degree in music/clarinet and woodwind performance from Ohio State University and a doctor of musical arts degree in instrumental conducting from the University of Iowa.
As a clarinetist, he performed in Carnegie Hall and as a soloist for numerous bands and orchestras. He has served as director of bands at three universities.
"I am looking for the opportunity to perform," he said, adding that it's been hard for him to "keep the chops in shape" while trying to maintain his administrative duties.
Mallett succeeds Steve Anderson, who left KU last spring to take a position as dean of the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.
-- Features-arts editor Jan Biles can be reached at 832-7146.