The Curtis Institute of Music has abolished its Board of Overseers, a group of clued-up citizens who advise and sometimes gently restrain the school president. We understand that Roberto Diaz, head of the school, became frustrated with their role and a new chairman agreed to sack the lot.
Here’s the deeply confused letter that has gone out to overseers:
Dear Members of the Board of Overseers,
As Lowell Noteboom indicated in his email from this summer, an ad hoc committee was formed earlier this year to examine the role and relationship of the Board of Overseers to Curtis. The committee included representatives from the Overseers, the Board of Trustees, and staff. In my capacity as chair of this committee, I spoke over this summer with past Board Chairs, Trustees, Overseers, and past members of the Overseers.
It was clear to me that over much of its 20-year existence, the Board of Overseers played an important role, bringing an outside perspective that helped develop Curtis and opening doors nationally and even internationally. As I’ve expressed to you before, Overseers represent an incredible resource for Curtis. The depth of your knowledge was especially clear to me in the External Trends report that Overseers provided to the Board, which so informed the present Strategic Direction.
However as the ad hoc committee examined the relationship between the Board of Overseers and Curtis, it became apparent that as Curtis’s needs had evolved, the collective role and purpose of the Overseers had become less clear. Gathering twice annually for two-day meetings did not seem to be the best use of the limited resources of Curtis—or of the valuable time and expertise of Overseers. It was agreed we needed to rethink how we engage directly with respected industry leaders who support the school.
In the end, after extremely careful consideration based on the committee’s report, the board decided to discontinue the Board of Overseers, while seeking other ways to keep individual Overseer involvement. New bylaws approved by the Board of Trustees are a step in that direction, encouraging greater participation of non-trustees—including constituents with an extensive knowledge of the field of classical music who bring a direct perspective of the field—on Committees with a full vote.
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the entire Board of Overseers and particularly Lowell Noteboom for his tireless work, as well as Cathy French and Dick Neu as Vice Chairs, and Gabrielle Rinaldi, as Secretary. I’m sharing a resolution passed by the Board of Trustees that honors the 20 years of service by the Board of Overseers, and further expresses our deep, collective gratitude for the valuable time and energy you have invested in Curtis. You can view the resolution here.
With great thanks,
Mark E. Rubenstein
Chairman of the Board
Among the overseers who are receiving this letter at this moment are Allison Vulgamore and Anne Parsons, respectively heads of the Philadelphia and Detroit symphony orchestras; the violinist Pamela Frank; Bruce Coppock of the St Paul Chamber orch; Pamela Rosenberg, former boss of the Berlin Phil; the publicist Mary Lou Falcone, who will shortly be going into damage-limitation mode; the clarinet virtuoso Anthony McGill; and the forer NY Times journalist John Rockwell. Not a good bunch of people to affront.