The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


A closer look at the new dean

Tuesdays in the Owen Fine Arts Center sound differently these days. Jazz music bounces off the walls of the Taubman Atrium where six musicians are playing.

The pianist wears dark-rimmed glasses as he emphatically taps his foot against the wooden floor.

This is the new dean of the Meadows School of the Arts.

Jose Bowen quietly slips through the door and gives a short wave to a group of students meeting in the Owen Fine Arts Center.

He has an agenda, but he wants input from the students.

In only a few weeks, Bowen has introduced new programs for the school. He proposes two student initiatives: $100,000 per year for undergraduate research and the formation of study abroad programs that reach beyond Europe.

Bowen has one condition: it’s up to the students.

“He likes people to be independently minded,” says Bowen’s 14-year-old daughter Naomi.

Bowen’s Web site describes him as “Musician + Scholar.” While he also considers himself a teacher and a writer, he thinks these words are the most applicable to describe his life.

“I’m a player. I like playing and conducting.”

Bowen passed up studying music at Juilliard to attend Stanford University. Here, he received a B.S. in chemistry, an M.A. in humanities, an M.A. in music composition, and a Ph.D. in musicology and humanities.

Bowen says he thinks in 3-D, and he connects his interest in music with philosophy. He says he studies the nature of things and that music is a when, not a where.

He loves the mystery of sound, which he says is difficult to pinpoint.

This exploration has led him from behind the desk at Stanford to in front on the classroom.

Bowen has worked in universities for 24 years, beginning at Stanford University as director of jazz ensembles. Since then he has worked at the University of Southampton, Georgetown University and Miami University, where he was dean of the School of Fine Arts.

Bowen supports the creative powers of young emerging artists. He says he doesn’t want school work and faculty demands to consume all of students’ time. Bowen is considering developing an urban arts center in the former location of the Mrs. Baird’s bread building at Interstate 75 and Mockingbird Lane.

He wants the building to become an experimental place for students to create, complete with studio space, classrooms and dorm rooms.

Amy Revier, sophomore art major and vice president of Meadows Ambassadors for Prospective Students, is optimistic about the future of Meadows under Bowen’s leadership.

“He’s really keen on what Meadows needs and how we can progress in a really positive way,” she says. He asks ideas from students in the meeting, taking notes as he softly strokes his goatee and leans casually against the piano.

He suggests creating a haunted house in the Bob Hope Theatre of the OFAC, open to the community as a fundraiser.

He even offers academic initiatives by asking students if dean’s list scholars would enjoy tickets to a Dallas Cowboys football game.

“The mission of an arts school is you have a purpose . . . a social purpose,” he says.

Bowen wants to develop foreign exchange programs in China, India, Africa and Latin America. He predicts Rio, Shanghai and Mexico City will be the most important cities in the next millennium.

Bowen says to explore more globally than Europe, suggesting a summer program in Timbuktu for next year.

Jamal Mohamed, director of the World Music Ensemble, percussion instructor and fellow jazz jammer, is excited about Bowen’s international interests.

“I’m really encouraged . . . It’s usually very Euro-centric here,” he says.

Bowen is a proponent of using technology as an educational tool. He uses podcasts and has created online games for the classroom. He wants to replace the OFAC kiosks with interactive electronic flat screens that can display student projects.

By this time next year, Bowen would like to see every student with laptop in hand and iPod in ear.

“We’re here to educate the whole person, not just the mind,” he says.

Bowen has written over 100 articles in various fields and is the editor of “The Cambridge Companion to Conducting” and the “Smithsonian Anthology of Jazz.” His current projects include “A Guide to Discography” and “Liszt and the History of Romantic Interpretation.”

Mohamed would like to know if the man ever sleeps since he accomplishes so much.

Bowen does have time to spend with Naomi and wife, Nancy. Naomi says she walks her family’s two dogs with her dad every evening. Jose has passed his love of music to his daughter.

Naomi plays the saxophone and improvises with her dad.

An search will reveal that Bowen also has also composed four compact discs, two of which are jazz music for Jewish services.

While Bowen keeps a Jewish home, he thinks the particular religion is less important than individual growth as an artist.

“There’s a connection between a spiritual life and an aesthetic life,” he says.

Bowen is in no hurry to leave the meeting as he takes notes and reviews the minutes, listening to each student provide ideas on how to get the others involved with the Meadows school.

“We should be showing every other person at SMU how important the arts are every day,” he says.

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