University of New Mexico Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway announced the appointment of Dr. Eric Lau, Professor of Music – Saxophone and Chair of the Department of Music in the College of Fine Arts, as the dean of UNM’s Honors College and the dean of University College.
“I’m just thrilled to have Eric taking on this important role,” said Holloway. “Eric is a highly respected department chair, and I’ve had the chance to really observe his work this year as he navigated the Department of Music through COVID. No mean feat in a department where blowing into instruments is a daily activity. The search advisory committee remarked on his genuine and approachable love of UNM students. His experience leading the full range of faculty – tenure stream, lecturer, and temporary – will be invaluable in this complex new double deanship.”
An active performer and teacher, Lau has performed concerts, masterclasses and clinics throughout the United States, Europe, Puerto Rico and Brazil. As a concerto soloist, Lau has been featured at both National and Regional North American Saxophone Alliance Conferences as well as with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the Roswell Symphony.
“My training as a musician has taught me more than how to play my instrument. It has helped me develop my skills in communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking, all skills I have found vital in my leadership experiences,” Lau said.
His commitment to new music has led to his presenting premiere performances of more than two dozen works for saxophone, including works by David Maslanka, Gunther Schuller, Michael Colgrass and Ida Gotkovsky.
In addition to his solo performances, Lau is a regular performer with the New Mexico Philharmonic, the Santa Fe Symphony, the Santa Fe Opera and as baritone saxophonist with the Iridium Quartet. With Iridium, a saxophone quartet that he co-founded, he can be heard on four professional CDs that include eight world premiere recordings. In addition, Lau's solo CD, Journey, features unique instrumental arrangements of vocal music written between the 17th and 21st centuries.
Lau holds the Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from Michigan State University where he was a recipient of both the Catherine Herrick Cobb Fellowship and the Dean’s Recruitment Fellowship. He received a bachelor’s degree in music from Louisiana State University. Lau became a Lobo in 2003 and says UNM has been a special place to work and grow.
“I immediately fell in love with UNM and New Mexico and knew that I wanted stay,” Lau said. “I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with the amazing students, faculty and staff in the department of music for the last 18 years.”
Honors College and University College remain separate colleges sharing a single dean, being a critical focal point of high impact educational practices at UNM, which includes first year experience courses, honors programs, living-learning experiences and undergraduate research. University College is also home to essential pre-professional programs supporting students ultimately pursuing programs such as nursing and medicine.
“With their interdisciplinary focus, these two colleges have a broad impact across the UNM campus and create opportunities for collaboration and partnership with virtually every college and entity on campus,” Lau said. “I think the undergraduate experience is such an amazing time in a person's life, so full of personal growth. The transformation of students from their first semester to graduation is profound, and these two colleges play a significant role in the undergraduate experience at UNM, one I am excited to be a part of. I cherish my own experiences as an honors student during my undergraduate degree and know it broadened my overall undergraduate experience.”
Lau replaces Professor Rob DelCampo, who has ably served as interim dean of University College for nearly three years, and Interim Dean Diane Marshal who has led the Honors College this year. Lau’s term as dean begins July 1.