An experienced administrator and advocate for the arts will lead Ithaca College’s founding school. Karl Paulnack, who has served since 2002 as director of the Music Division at The Boston Conservatory, has been named dean of the Ithaca College School of Music.
The appointment marks a return to Ithaca for Paulnack, who had been on the School of Music faculty from 1986 to 1998 as an associate professor of piano. He created and directed the school’s Bachelor of Music in Performance–Collaborative Emphasis degree program. He will assume his new position on July 1.
“Dr. Paulnack will be an inspirational leader for the School of Music, working with faculty and staff in support of continued excellence in its programs even while reaching out across campus to move the school and the college in new and innovative ways for the benefit of our students and the IC community as a whole,” said Marisa Kelly, provost and vice president for educational affairs. “He is an outstanding addition to the college leadership team.”
In addition to serving as the artistic and administrative leader of The Boston Conservatory’s Music Division and a member of its piano faculty, Paulnack has been active as an artist/teacher through performances, speaking and teaching. His inspiring 2004 address to the conservatory’s incoming class, “Why Music Matters,” has been reprinted in numerous publications and was quoted by Linda Ronstadt in her testimony to the U.S. Congress on behalf of funding for the arts.
Prior to joining the conservatory, Paulnack was the Ethel Alice Hitchcock Chair of Accompanying and Coaching at the University of Minnesota School of Music, and was a member of the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center and Music Academy of the West, among other institutions. He currently serves during the summer as music director and conductor of the Contemporary Opera Lab of Winnipeg and on the faculty of the Vancouver International Song Institute.
“I have had a rich, full and happy life as a musician and teacher in a number of pretty diverse places — Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Manhattan and Boston — and I’ve been a faculty member at one of the biggest universities in the nation as well as one of America’s few remaining independent conservatories,” said Paulnack. “I believe that, now more than ever, holistic, comprehensive, interdisciplinary education, where diverse individual pieces fit together to form a clearly understood whole, is our best hope for the future, and for the future of music. And it is my feeling that Ithaca College is uniquely positioned to model that sort of education in a compelling way. I am deeply honored by the call of this faculty to become their dean, and it is a call I accept with a sense of tremendous expectation, excitement and commitment.”
Paulnack earned his D.M.A. and M.M. in accompaniment from the University of Southern California and his B.M. in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music. He holds a certificate from the Executive Leadership Center at the Boston University School of Management’s Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership.
Hailed by the “Boston Globe” as “a firecracker of a pianist,” Paulnack has partnered with vocal and instrumental soloists, chamber groups, orchestras and opera companies in hundreds of concerts throughout the world. In 1996, he did a concert and teaching tour of Europe as a United States Artistic Ambassador, and since 2002 he has served as the rehearsal pianist for Boston Symphony Orchestra conductors Seiji Ozawa and James Levine with various soloists.
In 2011, he was presented with the “Signature Sinfonian” award by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the men’s national music fraternity. Ithaca College has the organization’s oldest continuously active chapter, Delta chapter, chartered in 1901.
Paulnack succeeds Greg Woodward, who was named last March as president of Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Professor of Music Theory Craig Cummings has served for the past year as interim dean.