Arthur (“Art”) R. Tollefson, former Dean of UNC Greensboro’s School of Music from 1984 to 2001, passed away July 24.
Tollefson came to UNCG after serving as the chair of the Department of Music at the University of Maryland, Northwestern University, and the University of Arkansas. During his 17 years as Dean of the UNCG School of Music, Tollefson balanced his career as a pianist with his position as an administrator. His accomplishments included strengthening the Music Education program, described as “exemplary” and “distinguished” in reviews by the NC Department of Public Instruction and by the National Council on the Accreditation of Teacher Education. Under his leadership, UNCG’s Summer Music Camp grew to be the largest in the South, and he oversaw the construction of the current Music Building, which opened in 1999.
While dean, Tollefson continued teaching piano lessons, with the belief that adults learn better when they come to music because they are determined to prove they can do it. As a pianist, Tollefson played in London and New York, as well as at the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Tollefson was a Past President of the College Music Society where he chaired the Ethics Committee and President of the North Carolina Association of Schools of Music. In 1999, the year that UNC Greensboro’s Music Building opened, Tollefson was honored for his contributions to the arts by Sigma Alpha Iota, the International Music Fraternity, which named him a National Arts Associate. Previous recipients of the honor included Dave Brubeck, Van Cliburn, and Henry Mancini.
“Art Tollefson was an outstanding dean for the UNCG School of Music,” said Dr. John R. Locke, Covington Distinguished Professor of Music Emeritus. “He arrived in 1984, my third year at UNCG, and served for 17 years. Art was a gentle soul and a ‘big picture’ thinker. He was also an incredible pianist and performed frequently as a soloist, including with the UNCG Wind Ensemble. The School made huge progress and enrollment growth during his tenure, including the approval for and construction of the new music building. He earned the trust and support of his faculty, of the alumni and donors, as well as the upper administration of UNCG. We were so fortunate to have him with us. He will be missed.”
Memorial donations can be made to the Arthur R. Tollefson Student Travel Fund at Advancement Services PO Box 26170 Greensboro, NC 27402, or online here.