Music school dean to retire

After more than 20 years as the dean of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, William Hipp is set for retirement at the end of the semester.

“I made the decision two years ago,” Hipp said, “I figured after 24 years I’ve earned it.”

Hipp came to UM in 1983 after leaving his post as chairman at Southern Methodist University. Since then he has helped to make the music program at UM one of the best in the country. The school’s retention rate, an indicator of selectivity, has increased by 10 percent since Hipp came to UM.

“When I first got here, Miami was still being called ‘Suntan U’,” Hipp said. “But I knew the school of music and the university as a whole were on the rise and had outgrown that image.”

Some of Hipp’s accomplishments while serving as dean include hiring 44 of the 64 full time faculty members, beginning the first jazz doctorate program in the country and creating the first Master’s degrees in music engineering and music business.

In addition to his work within the school, Hipp has also initiated 20 community outreach programs.

UM Music Time provides an early music education for 1,200 to 1,300 children from birth to age 8 by pairing them with music school faculty and students at 18 sites around Miami.

Festival Miami was started in his second year as dean. The festival features a number of musical performances by faculty, students and guest artists as well as giving students the opportunity to take master classes.

Despite his passion for the school and the community, Hipp acknowledged it can get hectic.

“My schedule is so intense in this job,” he said. “I wear many hats, from fundraiser to teacher to concert-goer; I’m always busy.”

After retirement, Hipp plans to stay in Miami and take a sabbatical to decide what else he wants to do.

“I’ll miss the day-to-day interaction with faculty and students,” he said, “That’s been my motivation all along.”

The search for a new dean is in the works and the decision is expected to be announced sometime this summer.

In the meantime, the UM community will enjoy the rest of Hipp’s tenure as dean.

“Dean Hipp was a great leader that cared about the students and faculty more then anything else,” said Dexter Robison, a senior in the School of Music, “He will be missed and hard to replace.”

Veronica Sepe may be contacted at