Professors Leta Miller and Carolyn Dean honored for arts research

Leta Miller
Leta Miller (Photo by Scott Rappaport)
Carolyn Dean (Photo: courtesy Carolyn Dean)
Carolyn Dean (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Dean)

Each year, the Arts Division at UC Santa Cruz bestows honorary titles on its most accomplished professors.  

This year, Acting Dean Martin Berger has appointed professor Leta Miller of the Music Department and Carolyn Dean in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department as 2014 Arts Dean’s Eminent Professors.

The title is the division’s highest recognition of faculty research achievement.  

Recommended by a panel of distinguished senior and emeriti faculty, the Dean’s Eminent Professors are appointed to five-year renewable terms and receive $10,000 in research funds.

Miller is a musicologist with broad expertise, whose recent work has focused on 20th-century U.S. avant-garde composers.

Best known for her research on Lou Harrison, John Cage, Henry Cowell, and Charles Ives, she has also published on the 16th-century madrigal, as well as on the links between music and science in 17th and 18th-century Europe.

The author or editor of nearly a dozen books, Miller is also an accomplished musician who has recorded performances of renaissance, baroque, and modern flute.

She has been awarded five recording grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Copland Fund, and three research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Miller joined the UC Santa Cruz faculty in 1987. Her latest book is the first full-length biography of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis.

“Committee members were taken with her deep archival work, remarkable range, beautiful writing, and consistent productivity,” Berger noted.

Carolyn Dean is one of the leading scholars of Pre-Hispanic and Spanish Colonial art and visual culture. Her work is multidisciplinary, drawing on art history, visual studies, archaeology, anthropology, history, and paleography.  

“In her two books and numerous articles, she’s consistently concerned herself with illuminating the unseen cultural frames that give meaning to ceremonial objects, buildings, rocks, and even water,” said Berger.

“Fighting against the collective weight of centuries of European and European-American interpretations that make use of Western paradigms for understanding indigenous cultures, she painstakingly resurrects the original contexts in which objects were made and viewed,” he added.

Dean has won prestigious fellowships from some of the leading arts and humanities granting agencies in the country, among them, the American Council of Learned Societies, Pew Charitable Trust, J. Paul Getty Trust, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts.

Her book, A Culture of Stone: Inka Perspectives on Rock, received the 2011 Arvey Prize from the Association for Latin American Art, presented annually for the best scholarly book published on the art of Latin America from the Pre-Columbian era to the present.

Dean joined the arts faculty in 1991.