History of the Department
In 1980 Xavier University purchased Edgecliff College, a small Liberal Arts College founded and administrated by the Religious Sisters of Mercy. This acquisition included all academic programs as well as the property and buildings. Historic Maxwellton Hall, a converted private home replete with a beautifully paneled ballroom, pipe organ, and a stunning overlook of the Ohio River, served as the Department of Music's home during the Edgecliff College years and for the first four years that the department was part of Xavier University.
Under the leadership of Dr. Helmut Roehrig, Professor Emeritus, Xavier University approved the Department of Music as a free standing and integral part of the College of Arts and Sciences. Under Roehrig's vision the department developed and offered two undergraduate degrees: the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance and the Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education. By the late 1980s, all academic departments on the Edgecliff campus were moved to the Xavier campus into Alumni Hall.
In 1998, Alumni Hall was renovated and renamed Edgecliff Hall under the leadership of the late Dr. Dona Buel, a concert pianist, who was department chair. At that time it housed most of the Department of Music facilities, including a recital hall, rehearsal rooms, classrooms, and practice modules.
The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) accredited Xavier University on November 16, 2007. Dr. Kaleel Skeirik, department chair, administrated the department during this time and led the university to this milestone accomplishment. Today, Xavier is one of the few Jesuit institutions that offers a full-fledged music program. Of the twenty-eight Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities members, twelve have music degree programs, three offer music education degrees and three, including Xavier University, have received accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).
In 2008, all full-time faculty offices and several studios located in the Music Center, a 1920s home on Dana Avenue, were moved into Edgecliff Hall. For the first time in the 180-year history of the university, the Department of Music had a home that housed all of its components.
Since then the department has added a music minor, a jazz minor and increased course offerings that meet fine arts core requirements for all majors at the university. At present, over nine-hundred students per semester participate in music and dance courses offered by the Department of Music.
In July 2012, the Department of Music became the Department of Music & Theatre. The department, chaired by Dr. Tom Merrill, oversees the functions of the Music Department, the former functions fulfilled by English Department and Classics Department of managing the Minor in Theatre program and the Performing Arts program in the Division of Student Life and Leadership, and help shepherd in two new Theatre degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Education.
In July 2013, the Xavier Music Series, one of the longest and most prestigious recital series in the country, was integrated into the Music & Theatre Department.