New dean brings new ideas to JCFA

Butler University appointed Ronald Caltabiano as the new dean of Jordan College of Fine Arts (JCFA) on Jan. 7.

Caltabiano is currently the associate dean of San Francisco State University’s College of Creative Arts as well as being a contemporary classical composer of chamber and orchestral music.

The composer’s résumé boasts a wide variety of past accomplishments including bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral music degrees from The Juilliard School, working as a musician’s assistant with Aaron Copland and working as a faculty member at several facilities including Manhattan School of Music, Hong Kong Baptist University and Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory.

He has preformed with several different groups including the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonia, Royal Scottish National Symphony, Juilliard String Quartet, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Fires of London and Chamber Music America.

“[Caltabiano] has impeccable credentials, his musical composition has been recognized worldwide and the Jordan College looks forward to his arrival,” JCFA Interim Dean Michelle Jarvis said.

Jarvis has acted as interim dean through 2010 after the retirement of Peter Alexander—who served as the JCFA dean for nine years. Jarvis will return to her former position of associate dean of JCFA and Caltabiano will officially begin his work as dean on July 1.

Caltabiano discovered his passion for music at an early age and followed his heart to a career in music.

“To be truly happy in life, you’ve got to find a way to do what you love most,” he said.

Caltabiano described himself as a “basement rock drummer” as a kid that, with the inspiration of a much-loved middle school band director, later studied music professionally.

“I had the world’s best junior high band director and she set me off on my life in the arts,” he said. “In my later teens I started to compose, and although I studied voice and a number of instruments, I found that composing was what I loved most.”

Caltabiano said he first visited Butler as a 13-year-old to spend time with his older sister, who had just graduated from the university.

Years after his first visit, Caltabiano found himself considering the possibility of becoming the new dean of JCFA.

He said it was a combination of the great arts programs on campus and and the integration of liberal arts studies into all disciplines that inspired him to look into the position.

While interviewing for the dean’s position, Caltabiano said the campus atmosphere of Butler in addition to the administrative, but “friendly exchanges” over meals made the job offer seem like the perfect fit.

“What I liked best were the few moments when I snuck away from the search committee and wandered through the campus to speak with students waiting for classes, having lunch, letting me interrupt their study time,” he said. “I found serious students who were delighted to be at Butler, who knew that they had made a great choice for their education. The students made me want to be part of the Butler community.”

Caltabiano said he had a lot to learn about JCFA, but he is excited to work with the university to discover the possibilities and opportunities that lie in the future of the college.

“I look forward to talking with students and faculty about what they think JCFA can become,” he said. “My job is to bring us all together to accomplish those things.”

Caltabiano said he will miss his friends from San Francisco, but they will remain a part of his life regardless of his location. Meanwhile, he said he is looking forward to living in the Midwest and experiencing a different part of the country.

“[I’m excited for] so many things—new friends, new challenges, seasons, snow,” he said. “My dog will love the snow.”