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 April 23, 2013/For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891,


Campus mourns second loss this month of a former leader


(Winston-Salem) The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) family is again mourning the loss of a former chancellor. Robert Suderburg, who served as the school’s third chancellor, died Monday in Williamstown, Mass., at the age of 77. The school’s second chancellor, Robert Ward, died April 3 in Durham at the age of 95.

A composer, conductor and pianist, Suderburg was chancellor from 1974-1984.

Suderburg’s tenure as chancellor was marked by major capital improvements, financed through increased contributions from the state and private sources. Among these improvements were the completion of the Workplace and the opening of the Semans Library; the partial renovation of the old Gray High School building; the acquisition of the former Mack Truck facility; and the renovation of the old Carolina Theatre, now the Stevens Center.

“He led the school through a period of tremendous growth,” said Chief Advancement Officer Mark Hough, who was a student in the School of Drama when Suderburg was chancellor. “He was a lovely man, always there for the students. He had a great passion for the arts and for the School of the Arts.”

                        Photo by Michael Avedon
Robert Suderburg

Hough said it is ironic that Suderburg should pass away during UNCSA’s current period of capital growth, which includes construction of a new state-of-the-art library. “I think he would be proud of where we are, and where we are going,” Hough said.

Rick Miller, who retired from UNCSA as dean of undergraduate and graduate academic programs, was a philosophy instructor during Suderburg’s tenure.  “We are grateful for his contributions. He raised the level of what we could accomplish,” Miller said. “He was a very innovative chancellor.”

As chancellor, Suderburg awarded UNCSA’s first honorary doctorates, to recipients that include author and school founder John Ehle, actresses Helen Hayes and Rosemary Harris, choreographers Agnes de Mille and Arthur Mitchell, film and theatre director Jose Ferrer, violinist and composer Itzhak Perlman, and guitarist Andres Segovia.

Suderburg is survived by his wife, Elizabeth. At his request, no memorial service will be held.

Robert C. Suderburg was a renowned composer, conductor, and pianist, devoted to the performance of 20th-century music. He received his B.A. from the University of Minnesota, an M.M. from the Yale School of Music, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Suderburg's compositions have been published by Theodore Presser and performed nationally and internationally by major orchestras, ensembles, and solo artists, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Seattle and North Carolina symphonies, and the Philadelphia String Quartet. His works and performances have been recorded by Columbia, Vox and Delfon, among others.

Suderburg taught music at Williams College beginning in 1985. He became composer-in-residence in 1986, and served as Chair of the Music Department from 1986 to 1995. He retired in 2001.

Suderburg conducted and taught at Bryn Mawr, the Philadelphia Musical Academy, the University of Pennsylvania, and the City University of New York. Suderburg also served as Co-director of the Contemporary Group at the University of Washington (1966-1974), and President of the Cornish Institute in Seattle (1984-1985). He served on many boards and panels, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Composers Panel from 1975 to 1981.

He received fellowships, awards, and prizes including two Guggenheim Fellowships, two NEA Fellowships, numerous ASCAP awards, awards from the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Music Center, the USIA award, and others.


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit