SMU News Contact: Patti LaSalle or Ann Abbas, (214) 768-7660


March 9, 2005


SMU Provost Robert Blocker
Robert Blocker, SMU's new provost and vice president for academic affairs -- click on this image to download a high-resolution version.

DALLAS (SMU) -- Yale University Dean Robert Blocker has been named provost and vice president for academic affairs at Southern Methodist University. Blocker brings a broad background of academic leadership as an administrator and as an expert in management. He will assume his new position at SMU July 15, 2005.

Blocker has served as the Lucy and Henry Moses Dean of the School of Music at Yale since 1995. Along with a tenured professorship in music, he holds an adjunct appointment as professor in the Yale School of Management. Before joining Yale, Blocker was the founding dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture at the University of California-Los Angeles from 1991 to 1995. He also served as adjunct professor of management at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

“From his years as a dean at Yale University, Robert Blocker brings outstanding experience as an academic leader who has addressed issues ranging from curriculum development to advancements in educational technology,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He has a strong record of community outreach to strengthen ties and attract external resources. He brings exceptional achievement in education as well as expertise in management. We are delighted to welcome him to the SMU campus and the Dallas community.”

As SMU’s chief academic officer, Blocker will be responsible for the administration of the university’s seven degree-granting schools, with a total full-time faculty of more than 500 and student enrollment of nearly 11,000. He will supervise the university’s libraries housing more than two million volumes, the Office of Enrollment Services, International Programs, Research Administration, Center for Media and Instructional Technology, Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center, SMU Press, and SMU-in-Taos. Blocker also will hold faculty rank as a professor of music in Meadows School of the Arts and adjunct professor of management in the Cox School of Business.

“The opportunity to serve this distinguished university in one of our nation’s great cities is one that I eagerly anticipate,” Blocker said. “Working with an excellent faculty and devoted staff, I am confident that we will advance SMU’s teaching and research mission.”

Developing partnerships and attracting external support have been major elements of Blocker’s academic career. Under his leadership at Yale, the endowment of the School of Music increased from $29 million to $151 million, and more than $100 million was acquired to renovate music facilities. While he was dean at UCLA, the university acquired the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center. Also at UCLA, Blocker was instrumental in establishing the Department of World Arts and Cultures and the Center for Digital Arts. More recently, he has been planning a collaborative venture with the president of the Juilliard School and international business leaders to establish an Institute for Cultural Leadership.

He has served on numerous university committees at Yale, including athletics, information technology, budget, Fulbright Scholar selection, tercentennial events, and city of New Haven initiatives.

Blocker’s previous academic leadership positions include serving as dean of the College of Music at the University of North Texas, the School of Music at Baylor University and at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, as well as chairman of the Department of Music at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Community outreach has been an integral part of Blocker’s service in academic administration. Soon after his arrival at Yale, he worked as a member of the New Haven Arts and Business Alliance to renew the commercial and artistic life of the city. Blocker also formed a coalition with the New Haven Public Schools to assist underserved elementary schools. At UCLA he began the ArtsCorp program in which students, faculty, and alumni volunteers provide arts instruction at public schools lacking those programs.

Blocker has a strong commitment to diversity. He appointed women to major administrative positions and achieved salary equity for senior faculty at Yale and UCLA. Minority student recruitment made notable gains at Yale, UCLA, and UNT, where he founded the Hispanic Friends Pro-Música.

A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Blocker earned his B.A. degree from Furman University and both Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of North Texas. He was a fellow at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University. He also holds three honorary degrees.

In addition to his academic leadership, Blocker is an accomplished pianist who has performed throughout the world and is recording three Mozart concerti. Blocker appears regularly on national radio and television as an artist and commentator and is a consultant to major educational institutions and government agencies.

Blocker has received numerous awards and honors for teaching and service and as a performing artist. He edited The Robert Shaw Reader, a collection of Shaw’s writing, which required a second printing by Yale University Press and is being translated into Korean. He also has written numerous journal articles.

Robert Blocker and his wife, Serena, have four grown children. She is a teacher of English to international students.

Blocker’s appointment ends a nationwide search led by R. Hal Williams, SMU dean of Research and Graduate Studies, and a committee of 16 faculty, staff, students, and trustees.

“I am delighted that Robert Blocker has agreed to become our Provost. We on the search committee canvassed the entire nation, researching hundreds of candidates, and found again and again that Dean Blocker is one of the most respected and experienced academic leaders in the profession,” Williams said. “He brings a wealth of leadership experience in higher education and a desire to help move SMU ever higher in the ranks of distinguished universities.”

Blocker succeeds Ross C Murfin, who has served as SMU provost since 1996. An active scholar, Murfin last year announced that the 2004-2005 academic year would be his last as provost. After a year’s leave of absence, he will fulfill his wish to become a full-time faculty member in the English Department of SMU’s Dedman College, pursuing his interests in teaching, research, and writing.


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Southern Methodist University is a private university in Dallas with more than 10,000 students and offers degree programs through seven schools. More information about SMU is available at