By Benjamin Pontz, Managing News Editor
After a national search that included four candidate visits to campus, Dr. James Day, Assistant Dean of the School of Arts & Communication at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), has been named the next Director of the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College. He will begin on July 2, 2018, replacing Dr. Kay Hoke, who announced her retirement at the beginning of last semester.
Day, a classical guitarist who led the guitar program at TCNJ from 1997 to 2014 and became Assistant Dean in 2011, served as the Interim Dean at TCNJ for the spring 2017 semester. He has also served as a guest professor at Goethe Universität in Frankfurt, Germany, and as an Endeavor Award fellow at the Centre for Cultural Partnerships, University of Melbourne in Australia.
“Dr. James Day distinguished himself as a highly effective strategic thinker, thoughtful listener, experienced leader and educator, and a warm and engaging person who is superbly qualified to build on the distinguished work that Dr. Kay Hoke has accomplished,” said Zappe, who spoke on behalf of the search committee as well as the Conservatory Oversight Board.
In an email to The Gettysburgian, Day said that he believes the Sunderman Conservatory of Music “offers the ideal model for preparing musicians and other students for leading lives of impact: rigorous musical training balanced with the breadth and diversity of a liberal arts curriculum.” He cited this model along with the enthusiasm of students and faculty as reasons he is excited to come to Gettysburg.
Day believes his past experiences in curriculum, planning, diversity, fundraising, and development will be key as he begins his new role, which includes providing strategic vision to the conservatory. He said that, during his visit to campus, he already discussed a “potential vision” and he looks forward to continuing those discussions.
“Our conversations focused on exploring ways in which the Gettysburg College strategic plan, The Unfinished Work, and its themes of impact, diversity and inclusion, and innovation provide an important framework for the [c]onservatory to grow the excellence and distinctiveness of its programs. Many of the stakeholders I have met with so far have conveyed excitement and enthusiasm for this approach,” he said.
Music major Rose Martus ’19, who previously expressed concerns with some of the finalists who came to campus, said, “I think he will bring a new perspective of service and community involvement to the conservatory.”
Martus mentioned that, prior to a student presentation during Day’s visit to campus, he introduced himself to students in the lobby of Schmucker Hall and invited them to attend, which left a positive impression on Martus. As with any new director, she does “have worries” with where Day will lead the relatively new conservatory, which was founded in 2005 after a $15.7 million gift from Dr. F. William Sunderman (Class of 1919).
“Will he help us really find a direction to go in as a young conservatory, and stick to it? Will he be able to help us recruit more talented students?” Martus wondered. “But I do think he can do something positive with this conservatory.”
Bridget Haines ’21, a music education major, is enthusiastic about Day’s arrival at Gettysburg and hopes he can bring positive changes and growth.
“He … seems very energetic and motivated to make changes, which I find exciting in a new director,” Haines said. “I’m personally a really big fan of change and people coming in and changing the way things are just to see if it might be better than they way they are currently, so I’m super excited for this new director to come in and [lead] the conservatory in a different way.”
Assistant News Editor Gauri Mangala contributed to this report.