KU announces 3 finalists for dean position at School of Music

photo by: Shawn Valverde/Special to the Journal-World

The University of Kansas campus is pictured in this September 2023 aerial photo.

The University of Kansas has selected three finalists in its search for a new dean for the School of Music.

The last of the in-person campus presentations from finalists are scheduled to conclude this week, and KU leaders are expected to make a decision on a new dean in the coming weeks.

KU is seeking a new dean for the School of Music after Robert Walzel stepped down as dean at the end of the fall 2022 semester. Walzel — who oversaw an increase in scholarship dollars, greater participation in the marching band and a more than $2 million renovation of Swarthout Recital Hall — had served as the school’s dean since 2010.

Here’s a look at the three finalists.

photo by: University of Kansas

Paul Popiel

• Paul Popiel has served as the interim dean of KU’s music school since January. He previously was director of bands for KU, and is a conductor and professor in the music school.

As a conductor, he has led performances around the world, including recently during a four-week residency with the Osaka Shion Wind Orchestra in Japan.

Prior to arriving at KU, Popiel served at Indiana University and Oklahoma State. He has undergraduate degrees from Truman State University in Missouri, a master’s in trumpet performance from Notre Dame and a doctorate in wind conducting from Michigan State.

photo by: Courtesy University of Kansas

Kevin Sanders

• Kevin Sanders is the director of the school of music at the University of Memphis. In that role, he oversees a school of more than 400 students that produces more than 300 events per year. During his tenure, the school has opened a new performing arts center and has added to its undergraduate degree offerings.

A former professional tubist, Sanders has performed around the world. In academia, he has held various positions at the school of music in Memphis. He also has taught at the State University of New York at Potsdam and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

Sanders has an undergraduate degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree in music from The Juilliard School and a doctorate in musical arts from Michigan State.

photo by: Courtesy University of Kansas

Shannon de l’Etoile

• Shannon de l’Etoile is the associate dean of graduate studies for the school of music at the University of Miami. De l’Etoile is an expert in the field of music therapy, having served 11 years as the director of Miami’s music therapy program.

In her current role, she oversees 41 graduate degree programs and is responsible for financial aid decisions for more than 300 students each year. Prior to Miami, she was a music therapy faculty member and researcher at Colorado State University and the University of Iowa.

De l’Etoile has undergraduate and master’s degrees — both in music therapy — from Colorado State. She has a doctorate in music education with an emphasis in music therapy from KU.


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