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Former Philadelphia Orchestra President Joins Drexels Westphal College

July 24, 2009

Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and the Department of Performing Arts has appointed Former President of The Philadelphia Orchestra James Undercofler to its faculty. In addition to teaching in the graduate Arts Administration program, Undercofler will pursue the development of an institute for emerging cultural models that focuses on identifying new strategies for the survival and development of the arts and culture sector. The institute is an outcrop of work began by Undercofler at the Eastman School of Music where he developed a multi-faceted and distinctive organization directed toward educating the music student of and for the future.

Undercofler will create new curriculum around arts and education and critical issues in nonprofit arts’ management. He will teach courses in arts leadership, fund development, organizational structure, and arts education, as well as advise thesis students.

“We are delighted that Jim will be coming to Drexel to join the faculty in the Arts Administration program,” said Cecelia Fitzgibbon, Arts Administration program director and Performing Arts Department head. “The students will benefit from his experience and wisdom and we will gain a wonderful colleague. The cultural industries need new thinking and there couldn’t be a better time for us to present creative ideas for addressing the difficulties and opportunities that the sector is facing. I look forward to working closely with Jim as we begin the work of the Institute.”

Undercofler was the president of The Philadelphia Orchestra until January 2009. His work was characterized by innovations in digital media delivery systems and connecting the orchestra within the Philadelphia community in deeply meaningful projects, both in performance and education. He currently serves as senior advisor to The Philadelphia Orchestra and has taught arts leadership courses at the University of Pennsylvania. He has held positions as president and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra, dean and professor of music education at the Eastman School of Music, executive and founding director of the Perpich Center for Arts Education (formerly known as the Minnesota Center for Arts Education) and director of the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut.

“Preparing students for their futures, and the improvement of the arts and cultural sector have always been at the center of my work,” said Undercolfer. “The prospect of applying this passion at Drexel is particularly meaningful to me, as it is a clear leader in the field of cultural policy education and research.”

A formerly active French horn player, Undercofler was also a youth orchestra conductor. His education includes degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Yale University and extensive post-master’s study at the University of Connecticut. He serves on numerous nonprofit boards, including the League of American Orchestras, the American Music Center and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. Over his long career he has been the recipient of numerous awards and citations, and has been a featured speaker at national and international conferences.

About the Arts Administration Program One of the oldest programs in the nation, Drexel's Arts Administration graduate program strives to provide the highest quality education for our students by integrating management practice, theory, and practicum into the curriculum. Classes incorporate the four branches of the arts, commerce, research, and technology for a multi-disciplinary course of study.

About the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design: Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design offers 13 undergraduate and five graduate programs in media, design and the performing arts. The College empowers students with the knowledge, skills and techniques to succeed in highly competitive creative fields. Programs are taught in small studio settings, featuring hands-on learning and a faculty of industry practitioners who emphasize the use of the latest technologies. Westphal College is home to the Mandell Theater, the Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel’s television (DUTV) and radio (WKDU) stations, the Rudman Institute for Entertainment Industry Studies, MAD Dragon Records and Drexel’s Historic Costume Collection.

In January 2009, the Westphal College received the largest philanthropic gift ever recorded at Drexel, $25 million. The gift is being used for the development and expansion of the college, purchasing a 130,000 sq ft. Robert Venturi Building on Market St. The Venturi building is one of two buildings that will serve as new home for the design programs of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design beginning in fall 2010.

Drexel is the premier co-operative education University in the United States and is a top ranked comprehensive university. Allen Sabinson is the dean of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. For more information about the College, go to:


News Media Contacts: Zeek Weil, Director of Communications and Events, Westphal College of Media Arts & Design 215-895-2629 or

Niki Gianakaris, Drexel University News Bureau 215-895-6741, 215-778-7752 (cell) or

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