From a young age, Dr. Stephen Eaves, the new dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, found his calling in music.
“I always knew that I was on the planet to teach music. It’s just what I was built to do,” Eaves said.
Eaves became involved in choral music at a young age, singing in church and school choirs. Raised in Nashville, he credits his high school choral director as the inspiration for his path in music.
“It was pretty clear once I got in that track that teaching music was what I really wanted to do,” Eaves said. “So, for almost 25 years I served as music executive and director of choral activities at three different universities. I directed choirs and toured all over the country and did quite a bit of international travel and touring with choirs.”
About six years ago, Eaves stepped up into full-time arts administration and leadership at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. Similar to Belmont, Friends is a Christian liberal arts institution and a nondenominational Christian campus. Eaves was alerted of the job opportunity at Belmont by a colleague.
“I just threw my name in the hat for consideration in the position, and here I am. In the world of higher education in the arts, Belmont has a wonderful reputation,” he said. “I knew of the great things that were happening on campus. The growth here, the great success story that Belmont is, the commitment to students and the spiritual life, those are things that drew me.’
After leading performing and visual arts at the university level in Texas, Arkansas and Kansas, Eaves is ready to take on Belmont and be “an advocate” for the students, he said.
“The part that I love about my job is really being an advocate and a support for what they do. In our college, it’s not just what they do in the classroom, it’s what they do the stage, it’s what they do in the exhibit hall, it’s what they do in the studio,” Eaves said.
His goals include “continuing the great tradition” of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, said Eaves. He hopes to add his own tradition to the college by actively seeking more partnerships and placing an emphasis on communication with faculty and students.
“I’m really excited about building lines of communication and really building a strong relationship through open communication,” he said. “I will be finding opportunities to reach into campus and off campus and create partnerships and collaborations that will benefit all students in our programs.”
Eaves has been working as the dean for over a month. He is seeking to make progress at the university and connecting with the student body.
“I want students to know that I’m accessible. I want to be there to help motivate and inspire students to achieve,” Eaves said. “I’m really committed to helping students find meaningful professional paths and giving them the tools to lead them to careers and professions as working artists and performers.”
Students can get in touch with Eaves through his office in the Wilson Music Building, by contacting the Belmont University School of Music through Facebook or by contacting students in the Dean’s Student Advisory Council.
This article was written by Erin Stender.