Donor Stories

Editor's Note: Bernard J. Dobroski, chair of the CMS 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee, has been a member of The College Music Society for 35 years, and has served CMS in a variety of capacities—from board member, newsletter editor, chair of numerous ad hoc committees—to coordinator of two national CMS conferences.

He has made yearly personal contributions to the CMS Fund since its inception, and is committed to a successful financial future for The College Music Society.

After serving eighteen years as the Dean of the Northwestern University and the University of Oregon Schools of Music, he is currently a John Evans Professor of Music at Northwestern. Previously, he's held positions as a fund-raiser, concert manager, and marketing/development professional. From 1968 to 1972 he was a tubist and keyboard musician in the United States Navy Band in Washington D.C. He has degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University (BFA), Catholic University (MM), and Northwestern (Ph.D.)

We recently talked to Bernie, to ask about his motivation to support The College Music Society as a life-member, and someone who believes in the CMS and the CMS Fund.

How did you learn about CMS? Why did you initially join CMS?

At the recommendation of my mentor and doctoral advisor, I joined The College Music Society in 1973. It turned out to be an investment that has paid a lifetime of dividends for me—personally and professionally. Initially, I joined CMS only for the monthly, and occasionally bi-monthly "printed" vacancy list, (remember there was no internet in 1973). I soon realized that the breadth of services and benefits went far beyond the vacancy list. In 2008 the number of benefits has grown substantially. Becoming a member of CMS helped support my early career choices, and later my desire to serve higher education at the highest order of excellence. CMS made significant contributions at each stage of my career, from my years as a doctoral student, to a pre-tenured lecturer and assistant professor, to surviving the tenure/promotion ordeal, to eventually, assuming all of the other hats I have worn in my career as a dean, and now senior professor.

Was there a key moment that influenced your decision to become an active member of CMS?

That's a hard question to answer, however there were so many "ah hah" moments that occurred during those early years of membership, and then during my several decades of service to CMS. Allow me to share one anecdote that might partially answer your question.

In 1977, I attended my first CMS Annual meeting (in conjunction with SMT and the Midwest Chapter of AMS). Coincidently I was also the "local arrangements" coordinator for the '77 Evanston conference, (we expected fewer than 250 conferees—there were over 750 registrations, then a CMS record attendance!

I began working on the 1977 Evanston CMS in the fall of 1976—I met regularly with a planning committee of dedicated current and future leaders of music in higher education with the resolve to insure a successful conference. Fortunately, the annual meeting was successful. But more importantly, during the four days of the conference, I met professionals who were committed to interdisciplinarity—colleagues in academic areas who cared about music performance, and performers who cared about the academic mission of music in higher education. As a young and inexperienced professor, I met with leaders and future leaders in our wide range of disciplines within higher education represented by CMS, who also cared about music offerings for our general campus students, and the communities that surround our academic "islands." The relationships that began in 1977 have continued throughout my professional life. I know that I want to continue to serve CMS as someone who meets young or mid career professionals to share my experiences and advice. I feel humbled by the many gifts I've received from CMS and from members who share the values of CMS.

It's now payback time.

In real estate the phrase is "location, location, location." As a member of "The Academy," of course scholarship, creative contributions, teaching, service and recruitment are important. However for ultimate success, the important phrase should be "networking, networking, networking." CMS regional and national conferences allow graduate students and faculty to exchange in formal and social situations with our very impressive and approachable early, mid, and late career CMS members.

Why should members support CMS or The CMS Fund?

Review the many benefits of CMS on its Web site. The Society is much more than its Directory and Music Vacancy Lists.

"Networking, networking, networking." The heart and soul of CMS are its members — not just the services it provides. The CMS site has names and contact information of members who are committed to providing information on mentoring, professional development, engagement and outreach and many other possibilities.

Regarding the CMS Fund....

My suggestion to young members of CMS: Invest in your career by attending regional and national conferences, and/or the myriad or "institutes" and workshops" sponsored by CMS. Your attendance and active participation will pay dividends to you in the future.

My suggestion to mid-career professionals: the same as above, but with an additional caveat: assess your priorities, and consider how you can make a difference with any discretionary contributions you can make to organizations like The College Music Society. Even a $25 annual tax-deductible contribution to CMS sends a strong message to foundations, family foundations, government agencies, and others who might consider contributions to CMS. Potential donors ask, "What percentage of your membership contributes?" Be part of our "team."

To senior and life-members of CMS: consider an annual gift and if possible, consider talking to your attorney about a small or large gift as part of your estate planning. There may be tax advantages that would benefit your heirs, but more importantly, your estate gift can potentially insure the continuing influence of CMS on music in higher education.

Any other thoughts?

CMS has earned an important place on an elite list of organizations that have, or are making significant contributions to music in higher education—our future depends on us. Please support CMS by renewing your membership, or taking my suggestions to heart for further involvement, including the possibility of making a yearly contribution. CMS needs your future advocacy and support!


The College Music Society (CMS) has been one of the most significant influences on my academic career and, more importantly, on my life as a person. I joined the national organization in the early 70s, before the Southern regional chapter existed, and my initial motivation for joining was to find an additional opportunity for networking.

I "knew" back then that my time in Florida would be very brief. It turned out that I was wrong, since I'm still here almost 40 years later. However, at that time, I joined to find another opportunity to present musicological papers and to receive the Music Vacancy List.

I discovered that CMS was a group which encouraged cross-disciplinary discussion, unlike some of the more "specialized" academic groups within music. Since I've always been interested in discussion "across the boundaries" (and even married a political scientist), that became one of the most attractive aspects of the organization, and that is one of the primary reasons I still attend national meetings regularly, over 20 years after leaving music as a discipline in favor of broader administrative duties.

I have been active in my regional chapter, having served as Local Arrangements Host for the initial meeting of the chapter in 1979. I held several regional offices, including the Presidency, toward the end of my time in the Department of Music.

I made a gift to The CMS Fund for multiple reasons: (1) I believe in the mission of the Society; (2) I believe in many of the initiatives it has embraced, particularly those involving change, within and outside the academic ivory tower; (3) I believe that CMS has a much firmer grasp on what is needed for music to survive as an academic discipline than most other academic music groups have; and (4) the most important reason for me personally—the people are cordial and make me feel welcome, even though they know I'm hardly going to be the one helping them to write the next cutting-edge article on some tiny aspect of music history. Folks in CMS made my political-scientist wife feel welcome at meetings during her last decade as a seriously disabled person. They continue to make me feel welcome. In other words, CMS believes in cross-disciplinary communication across traditional boundaries BECAUSE it believes that people are important. I embrace that idea and want to support it.


The College Music Society is an organization that helps a person like me find oneself as a professional—that is, by helping one find that comfortable niche (not necessarily an easy niche) for becoming most productive, not only locally but with the capacity to become significantly productive beyond one's primary employment.

To give financial support through the CMS Fund or in some other way is a symbol of my saying that CMS is a worthwhile organization that is and has been of significant importance both professionally and personally and definitely worthy of financial support.

Prior to CMS, I was a music educator—a member of MENC committed to teacher training. Then I received a call from Phil Rhodes, a future President of CMS, asking me to run for election to the CMS Council. I said yes to Phil. I was elected and my professional life changed forever. CMS was to become the most important influence in my professional life.

This included election as Board member for Music for General Studies (MGS), Director of the 1981 Wingspread Conference of Music in General Studies, Director of four summer MGS workshops at the University of Colorado. My CMS experiences then led to the Presidency of CMS and then Editor of the CMS Newsletter—a position I held for nine years.

That's my specific CMS journey, but much more has contributed to my considering CMS a significant musical and educational organization.

CMS has not been static in its philosophy and its programs. Its purpose has been fluid with a significant capacity for building on the past as it prepares for the future.

To take the perhaps unusual step in concluding this piece, I quote from my final "Message from the President," as presented in the May 1988 Newsletter:

"I trust that the accomplishments of the Society during my term will prove to be additional building blocks upon which future leadership will be able to build substantially and effectively. It is my hope, then and now, that the Society produces programs and activities that (1) manifest continuity yet build for the future and (2) that are responsive to immediate needs in the profession yet provoke and challenge long-held assumptions." These statements reflect my thoughts at that time and fundamentally describe today the core values and practices of The College Music Society.


I joined The College Music Society as a young graduate student. Unlike many, I suppose, this had nothing to do with the Music Vacancy List. CMS interested me because of two distinctive features of the Society.

The first of these was that CMS brought together

composers, performers, and scholars, composer-performers, performer-scholars, historically minded music theorists and historians of music theory, music educators and ethnomusicologists, and colleagues interested in multicultural music education, all under one umbrella. CMS represented the important idea that all of us in music in higher education belong to the single discipline music. Within the discipline, then, it fosters what I've come to call "intersubdisciplinarity."

The second feature of CMS that attracted me was the Society's dedication to the enterprise of teaching, while the subdisciplinary societies, such as my own American Musicological Society, focused almost exclusively on scholarship - at least that was certainly the case in the 1970s, when I was starting out. This seemed important for a number of reasons, of which only the most obvious was that teaching forms such a big part of what we all do. Beyond that, CMS recognized the need of many of us to teach beyond the narrow limits of our subdisciplines. Especially, it made an important place for Music in General Studies, a crucial part of our programs that no one else addressed. And finally, teaching is such an important contribution to our own continued learning that learning to teach becomes a vital stage in our teaching in order to learn.

Well, in due course I did turn to the Music Vacancy List, and I found my present position, which worked out very well. Since then - over thirty years now - I've had the opportunity to work with colleagues through CMS in various ways: as host of regional meetings and Chapter President, at the national level as Secretary, Newsletter Editor, and President, and presently as chair of the Forums and Dialogues Committee and on the Board of Directors of The CMS Fund. All of those experiences have been eye-opening and enriching ones, as well as enjoyable.

Along the way, it has been impressive to watch the Society develop some very special ways of opening up our professional world. I've admired the way in which national meetings modeled the idea of bringing conference participants into contact with the local musical traditions of our meeting sites. I've been touched by the empathy and generosity of the membership in assisting our Puerto Rican colleagues after Hurricane Georges. The ongoing emphasis on engagement and outreach demonstrates a uniquely committed character among our profession.

These are some of the reasons why my membership in CMS has always been a source of pride. I'm looking forward to watching the Society grow in new ways and, of course, to lending a small hand where I can.


It seems as though musicians have been talking for years about community outreach. Musical organizations, performers, educators, composers have developed outreach programs that sometimes make a positive impact and that allow the public to experience diverse musics; however, I feel truly excited by recent moves away from outreach to engagement.

The kinds of engagement projects that The CMS Fund helps to make possible move well beyond taking music to the wider public. These are innovative programs that truly engage members of the public, university faculty members, school children, professional musicians, and collegiate musicians. In my mind, this multi-dimensional involvement is key to keeping the field of music relevant in a time period in which many people have nearly immediate access to more music at a lower price than at any time in history. This is why I support The CMS Fund and have made contributions over the past several years as part of the Beyond Fifty Campaign.

The CMS Fund is easily accessible from the CMS webpage. One can read about the various projects that have received grants. One can also use the web to make a contribution. I know that if I had to write a check to support the engagement activities with which CMS members are involved, I would find a way to put it off, and then to put it off some more. What I have found most helpful is the fact that I can contribute electronically when I renew my membership. Not only do I find that convenient, but I also appreciate it conceptually: I'm connected to several facets of the organization at once: the Fund, my membership, and so on. So, the next time the question of what sets The College Music Society apart from other professional organizations arises, think of The CMS Fund, community engagement, innovative service learning projects, collaborations with underserved populations in the creation of and performance of a wide range of musical styles, and everything else that it helps to make possible.

Like many of my graduate school classmates, I originally joined CMS during the Fall, 1976, in order to receive the Music Vacancy List. Thanks to the vacancy postings, I was able to obtain my first teaching position—as an Assistant Professor of Music at Willamette University.

I gave my first paper at the 1982 CMS National Conference in Boston. As I later grew into my career in higher education, my research interests gradually shifted to the study of the administration of music schools. CMS, with its mission to study all aspects of music in higher education, provided an excellent forum for my research. The national CMS conferences enabled me to present my research on (1) the work attitudes of music faculty, (2) the conservatory and the enrollment declines of the 1980s, and (3) the ethnic diversity of both music faculty and graduate students. During these presentations I was always pleased that the audience for my papers usually included fellow CMS members from all areas of music-a testament to the broad vision of CMS and its membership.

In 2005 I was both privileged and honored to be asked to write the 50-year history of The College Music Society (to be published this spring). It was during this research that I learned what was really going on at the 1982 national conference while I was nervously presenting my paper. The Committee to Create a Blueprint for the Future of CMS initially met at this national conference and was a landmark effort in the history of CMS. In addition to being a very gratifying project, the history project has allowed me to learn a great deal about the many, many projects and services of CMS during its 50-year history. The Society's ongoing attention to faculty, demographics, technology, teaching, and the many other issues critical to music faculty today make it far ahead of its peers.

Having held Life Membership in CMS since the early 1980s, it has been some time since I have paid annual dues. As a result, I am very pleased to be able to give back to the Society both in time and in financial support. In addition to my CMS Beyond Fifty Campaign pledge and gifts, I have included The CMS Fund in my estate plan as a partial beneficiary of my life insurance policy.

I look forward to many more years of association with CMS and my many CMS friends and colleagues.


Editor's Note: Sang-Hie Lee, a CMS life member, was very generous to The CMS Fund as it reached the $100,000 goal of its recent campaign. Sang-Hie gives to The CMS Fund because she appreciates the many friends and colleagues she has in the Society. She recently stated "CMS continues to be the place where intelligence and common sense meet. It is also the place where collegiality really means being supportive." Her professional agenda includes using her organizational skills to help CMS colleagues become more active in shared governance and diversity causes.

I was brought up in a genteel household and raised to be proper and truthful. My 31-year academic life turned me into a civil-rights leader. Is there such a thing as destiny? I'd marched many times in my native Korea, the first being "Stop the Stop- War" in Pusan, a Southern-most port city where the government was temporarily housed as the Chinese drummed to South Korean peninsula. We marched demanding the UN forces to keep on fighting until we gain our country back, which they did! Here's this girl, with this "marching" background and an excellent English speaking and reading knowledge, landed in Los Angeles on July 7, 1963, an historic year that November! I was accepted to the renowned Aube Tzerko studio at UCLA, and I received an EdD with piano performance and pedagogy concentration from the University of Georgia in 1977, where I completed all DMA and EdD degree requirements.

Professor Dan Politoske introduced CMS to graduate students at Georgia. I went to my first meeting in San Antonio, Texas and liked what I saw. It was a small gathering of professoriate made up of diverse people in every sense of the way. I had gone to national meetings of MTNA and MENC, both of which were a sea of people scurrying about importantly where one can easily feel invisible. Contrarily, CMS was "real": people looked into your eyes and said hello. Meetings were interesting mixes of subjects and disciplines. I decided that this was my association—and became a life member. What a deal it was? I had made a wise investment! Giving to CMS is a pleasure, at the least, to make up for all the annual membership fees that were waived. But that is beside the point. I give because where else would I meet and work with wonderful people? In the midst of the smallness of my musty office environment, news from CMS or an e-mail from CMS colleague lifts my spirit.

CMS continues to be the place where intelligence and common sense meet and is also the place where collegiality really means being nice and supportive of each other. Later, I went to University of Michigan and received a first—class education in the study of higher education. This education gave me knowledge and the know-how about university governance, finance, organizational conditions, dealing with internal and external constituencies, academic affairs, student affairs, law and higher education, and relationship between government and public higher education. My ensuing administrative tenure was productive and short-lived. My home College and School's diversity has gone in the reverse direction since. I returned happily to my first love, teaching, performing and researching music.

My children are now grown and have their own family life. Now, my agenda is to give back. To me, CMS is the place. My agenda includes using my organizational skills to help CMS colleagues become more active in shared governance and diversity causes. All these years, CMS stood by me with its solid mission, "to promote music teaching and learning, musical creativity and expression, research and dialogue, and diversity and interdisciplinary interaction."

Yes, life gave me destiny. I am to be a pianist as I've known since very young age. I've become an academic civil-rights leader too. I hope to give back by helping set the tone for all underdogs of any kind --minority, women, quiet and gentle men.., who may be subject to any kind of tyranny. Strange, but I believe academia is the place to do this; and CMS is the place to raise our consciousness. I support CMS' posterity and its academic leadership.


In 1990, when Tim Justus began his teaching career at the University of the Ozarks, the only professional organization he knew of was The College Music Society. Upon the recommendation of his mentor, he joined the Society and has been a member ever since.

In his current position of Chair of the Department of Music at Dickinson State University in North Dakota, he finds that he takes advantage of the many services CMS offers to its members such as the Directory and the Music Vacancy List. In addition, he enjoys the Newsletter and Symposium as they keep him up on the news of the profession. The website also has been helpful to him in providing up-to-date information on conferences and other professional activities.

Tim presented a paper at the Southern regional meeting in Mississippi in 2004 and has attended several other national and regional meetings. He hopes to have increased involvement in his current region by becoming more active in the Rocky Mountain Regional Chapter.

He has always emphasized the arts in his philanthropic giving. In his view, the arts say more to what it means to be human than any other aspect of life. Tim contributes to only one national music organization—The College Music Society. He says, "I always feel good about giving to an arts organization—I want to be able to give more and hope that I can in the future."