Willie Hill, Musician and Educator, Named New Director for Fine Arts Center at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - Willie L. Hill Jr., professor and administrator at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has been named director of the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts and appointed to a faculty position in the department of music and dance.

Hill is a professor of music education and assistant dean of academic programs at UC-Boulder’s College of Music. He holds a Ph.D. in music education from UC-Boulder and has a national and international reputation in music education and administration. A jazz saxophonist, he is also a performer, author, director, presenter, and conductor at the K-12 and collegiate levels. His latest CD, titled "Got Eyes For You" was released this past summer.

Cora B. Marrett, vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, lauded Hill’s selection. She said: "Dr. Hill is an extremely well established educator and musician. His leadership skills and his national and international prominence will help the Fine Arts Center to build upon its current achievements and success."

In January, Hill will be inaugurated as president of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE), the largest jazz association in the world, according to Fine Arts Center Director Emeritus, Frederick C. Tillis. As vice president and president-elect of IAJE, Hill worked with many groups, including Black Entertainment Television (BET), Walt Disney World Creative Entertainment, the National Association of Music Merchants, and the National Association of Schools of Music to promote the cause of jazz education in the U.S. and abroad. The BET partnership resulted in a $500,000 grant to help fund the IAJE’s Partners in Jazz program for educational outreach.

As assistant dean, he helped recruit minority students to UC-Boulder, mainly through the establishment of the "Mile High Jazz Camp," now in its sixth year. The camp has attracted more than 1,200 students from 38 states and abroad, many of whom eventually enrolled in music at the school.

Hill’s recent publications and presentations include topics such as the role of the jazz educator in the public schools, music education in the 21st century, the meaning of the blues, early jazz in New Orleans, black musicians in jazz history, African American undergraduates at majority institutions, the contributions of African Americans in the U.S., and the value of arts education for children.

He and his wife will relocate to the area next summer when he joins UMass full-time.