Dean of Rider's Westminster College of the Arts announces retirement

Robert Annis will retire December 31, 2014, after 20 years of service.
Thursday, February 27, 2014

Robert L. Annis, dean and director of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts, which includes Westminster Choir College, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and Westminster Conservatory, today announced his plans to retire effective Dec. 31, 2014. Annis, 64, has served as dean for the past 20 years.

Rider University president Mordechai Rozanski said, “Bob has provided extraordinary leadership to Westminster Choir College during his twenty-year career. Among his most important contributions were preserving and enhancing the legacy and great musical traditions of the Choir College while championing change and innovation. Thanks to his visionary leadership, we were able to conceive and bring to reality the new, two-campus Westminster College of Arts in Princeton and Lawrenceville, with its integrating theme of the arts as the overarching link.”

During his tenure as dean, Annis has been the driving force and creative muse for the continued world-renowned success of the College. He is credited with leading the evolution of the arts identity initiative for Rider University and the implementation and integration of Westminster Choir College with the School of Fine and Performing Arts and Westminster Conservatory to form the Westminster College of the Arts. The result of this merger has propelled the University into the upper echelon of academic institutions that offer Fine and Performing Arts programming.

Under his leadership, Westminster Choir College and Westminster College of the Arts added nine new programs or degrees that kept the College at the forefront of innovative curriculum while supporting the career goals of students. He also over saw the building of new state-of-the-art music keyboard labs, renovations to the voice labs and practice rooms and the renovation of Erdman Hall. The Westminster Choir College campus flourished after the restoration of the Campus quadrangle and the implementation of new, online ticketing technology that has enabled the College to offer performances to new and broader audiences.

Rozanki said it was also Annis’ persistence, fundraising acumen and conceptual planning that led to the construction of the Marion Buckelew Cullen Center, the first major academic building at Westminster Choir College since 1975. “I consider our 11 years working together as a wonderful partnership during which Bob not only helped advance the College’s stature but helped secure its future,” Rozanski said.

Rider University board of trustee member and Westminster Choir College alumna Ernestine Lazenby Gast ’68, added, “Bob built on the heritage and traditions of Westminster Choir College in an innovative way. With creative vision and determination, he enabled Westminster Choir College to become an integral part of Rider University and ensured a more robust place for music and the arts on both campuses.  Our students and the community have benefitted significantly from his artistic and administrative skills.  We are grateful for his years of dedicated service.”

The University will implement a search process charged with finding a new dean.

Westminster Choir College was founded in 1926 and merged with Rider University in 1992. There are more than 5,000 alumni residing in 49 states and 31 countries.

Before his appointment as Westminster’s dean, Annis served as dean of enrollment services at New England Conservatory and on the faculties of the New England Conservatory and Brown University. He has served as a consultant and advisor to educational institutions and arts organizations in the areas of enrollment management, strategic planning and marketing. In addition, he has served as chair of an accreditation team for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and a member of the Princeton University Concerts Committee. Currently, he is a member of the Board of Directors for the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to his appointment as dean, Annis had an extensive performing career as a clarinetist with numerous orchestras and chamber music ensembles and as a recitalist throughout the United States. He continues to perform as a member of Collage New Music, the Grammy-nominated contemporary classical chamber music group. Formerly a member of the San Antonio Symphony, he began substituting with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops while an undergraduate student at New England Conservatory. He is on more than 40 recordings and his performances have been broadcast on the Public Broadcasting System, National Public Radio, and the Tokyo Broadcasting System.  He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, the University of Southern California, the Tanglewood Music Center and the Harvard University/College Board Admissions Institute.

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Robert Annis speaking at the 2013 Westminster College Opening Convocation