For newly-inducted Dean of Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business Doug Howard, home is where the heart is and his heart is here at Belmont University.
Howard, who succeeds nine-year incumbent Dr. Wes Bulla, is a distinguished veteran of the music industry. Graduating from Belmont in 1979, Howard has gone on to lead the industry in the areas of publishing and beyond.
Serving as the vice president of Polygram Music Publishing, vice president of A&R for Lyric Street Records/Walt Disney Company, and founder of Vandermont Music Group, Howard’s entrepreneurial spirit has guided his journey.
Howard, who was an 11th hour candidate for the position, wasn’t entirely sure if he wanted to pursue the role of dean, but once he was made aware of the opportunity and the position available, he made the decision to apply.
Now, Howard believes it is time to give back as the head of the Curb College and sees this current stage in his life as the perfect time to do so.
“Ten years ago I was so into my career, and I was a bit selfish perhaps, but now I’m at a point where I can be comfortable giving back and sharing some of my failures and my successes, because I believe you can learn from both,” said Howard.
Howard further added that the knowledge and accolades gained over his career weren’t the only driving forces behind his good fortune.
“I have a daughter who is seven, a wife on Music Row who was very supportive of this decision. Ultimately every job I’ve had in the industry, I’ve never had to kick in a door, something usually happened which opened one for me, and I really believe I am supposed to be here.”
Howard is no stranger to Belmont leadership as he has served on the advisory board since the inception of Curb College and its programs in 2003. Howard has formed relationships with much of the personnel, the college’s former deans and the founder of the original music business program, Robert Mulloy.
His experiences both professionally and with the program have set a foundation for his student-driven focus.
“Being the dean is not about me, it’s about the students, and I think back to something I learned when I was a real young publisher. I was beginning to represent some great songwriters, and Bill Hall, my mentor, instilled in me that the songwriters down the hall that were writing the songs were the reason that we were there. The buildings, the studios and everything else exists because of what they do.” “That’s what I see about our university: we have a great faculty and staff that is working to hand off the baton to the next generation and help students by serving as both teachers and mentors,” said Howard.
Howard knows being a leader of this university is no easy task and has strong expectations and goals for what he wants students to achieve.
“The most important thing as a student is to learn to think for yourself and to be a critical thinker,” he said. “In the big picture, I want our students to be able to think for themselves and have a desire to search for answers they may not have.”
The reputation of the Curb College and Belmont as a whole is a high priority for Howard as well.
“The most important goal for me is that I want Belmont’s Curb College to be perceived as the best place to go and learn the entertainment business. That’s a lofty goal, because there are places that are strictly engineering or film schools that have their niche,” Howard said. “But I want us to be perceived as one of the best, if not the best programs to study every facet of the entertainment industry.
Howard hopes he can inspire the graduates of Belmont to feel that way as well.
The position as dean is a full-time job; however, he will retain his role as a publisher for his current team of writers at Vandermont Music Group.
“For my publishing work I will most likely have someone fulfill those duties, but the reason I want to stay involved is because I believe it’s still important for me to be interacting. I want to have cuts, I want to be on the BMI and ASCAP stages, and I’m still involved with several boards revolving around the industry, but serving as dean is my priority and passion.”