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Dr. Keller Cooker Named Dean of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music

Jazzed Magazine • News • April 19, 2017

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The executive dean of The College of Performing Arts at The New School has announced that Dr. Keller Coker has been appointed dean of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, effective immediately.  Beforehand, Dr. Coker served as associate dean for academic affairs at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.

Dr. Coker’s résumé boasts an extensive background in music and the arts, including founding the American Metropole Orchestra, serving as executive director of the Smith Fine Arts Series, and arranging music for Kurt Elling, Cuong Vu, Martha Reeves, Joe Lovano, and Allen Toussaint.  Dr. Coker himself is a jazz trombonist, composer, and arranger, and holds a bachelor and master of music degrees in jazz studies, a doctor of musical arts degree in historical musicology, and a Ph.D in historical performance from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.  Prior to working at The New School, Dr. Coker worked as a full-time professor of music with tenure at Western Oregon University.

“I am thrilled about the appointment of Keller Coker as dean of this wonderful school,” said Richard Kessler, executive dean of The College of Performing Arts and dean of Mannes School of Music. “This was not an easy position to search for, considering the range of proven success and experience we were looking for, including music education, academic administration, organizational leadership, expertise across a wide range of jazz and contemporary music, and more. I have no doubt that Keller is going to do great things and everyone at The New School’s College of Performing Arts is looking forward to rolling up their sleeves with Keller in this new position.”

Over the course of his career, Dr. Coker has developed and taught a variety of college courses, including songwriting, early music ensemble, jazz composition, brass seminar, ethnomusicology, music history, improvisation, world music, music theory, and popular music in America.

“We were deeply impressed by Keller’s work as associate dean,” said Jane Ira Bloom, professor of jazz and co-chair of the search committee. “He clearly distinguished himself throughout the search process, which included campus visits for all of the four finalists. Keller brings to the position of dean a broad and deep background in performance, organizational leadership, music scholarship, teaching, academic affairs and a significant knowledge of a wide range of music from traditional jazz to pop, experimental, and classical.”

Dr. Coker will be succeeding dean Martin Mueller, who worked for The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music for 30 years. 

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