New director announced at the troubled School of Music
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New director announced at the troubled School of Music

The Australian National University School of Music has a new director, less than two weeks after the abrupt departure of Kenneth Lampl from the role.

Kim Cunio, currently an associate professor in composition and convenor of musicology, has been described as an accomplished composer and performer, whose music has been performed around the world, including at the White House and various international music festivals.

Dr Kim Cunio, the new head of the School of Music at the Australian National University.

Dr Kim Cunio, the new head of the School of Music at the Australian National University. Credit:Karleen Minney

His appointment was announced Thursday, after the departure of Professor Lampl less than two years into his appointment.

Dr Cunio was chosen for the role after “an internal selection process”.

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The quick turnaround is in contrast to the drawn-out process that followed the departure of Peter Tregear, who left the position suddenly in 2015, after three years.

Professor Tregear had been appointed in 2012 to restore confidence in the school after then vice-chancellor Ian Young instituted dramatic staff and budget cuts.

After his departure, the school was without a director for the next 18 months, battling more instability and funding cuts.

Professor Lampl, also a composer of note, stood down from the role last week, citing plans to pursue individual projects and continue teaching at the school.

He maintained that he had achieved much during his tenure, including radically turning around falling student enrolments and implementing new reforms at the school as part of the controversial Podger Review.

The review, handed down in 2016 by former public service commissioner Andrew Podger, detailed a number of long-term problems at the school involving a legacy of distrust and years of poor management.

It called for an overhaul of governance, staff culture and financial management.

Professor Lampl said under his direction enrolments had climbed by 148 per cent and the school had raised more than $200,000 for scholarships and student support, as well as forging new partnerships with business and industry.

But he said the workload as head of school was too great as his skills as a composer were also in demand.

In the meantime, in a letter to staff, dean of the College of Arts and Social Sciences Rae Frances said Dr Cunio would help maintain stability at the school.

“I look forward to working with Kim and the School of Music to continue the implementation of the University’s response to the recommendations of the 2016 Podger Review, and to secure the long-term future and stability of the school,” she said.

Sally Pryor is a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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