Eileen Strempel
Inaugural Dean

With a wide-ranging career encompassing the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, Dr. Eileen Strempel is the Inaugural Dean of UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music and a Professor in the School of Education and Information Studies. Among her accomplishments is the role of founding a new school driven by a strong commitment to exceptional academic excellence at our nation’s number one public university. Recently formed with a generous $30M donation from trumpeter, producer, and artist Herb Alpert, the institution is the first and only school of music in the University of California System.

Under her visionary leadership, the school has seen transformative undergraduate student growth of 65% in response to the introduction of innovative degree offerings tailored to the demands of the 21st-century music industry, with a focus on rapid innovation that rigorously trains the next generation of scholars, artists, educators, and industry leaders. Strategic initial program design facilitated a remarkable 113% rise in the number of matriculated transfer students over two years. Strempel founded a Board of Advisors for the school and led the school’s comprehensive and focused strategic planning process. As a result, the Herb Alpert School is rapidly ascending in national rankings, and in 2021, Strempel was acknowledged as one of “The Top Ten Deans in U.S. Colleges and Universities.” A cross-institutional leader at UCLA, she serves as Chair of the Chancellor’s Council for the Arts (currently engaged in 2028 Olympics planning, as UCLA is the site of the Athlete’s Village) and co-Chair of the Professional Deans Council.

Strempel is a highly successful fundraiser from both foundations and individuals; during her tenure as dean, she has raised nearly $40M to support new named faculty chairs, research centers, and student scholarships. She has served as PI or co-PI on nearly $11M in extramural funding (primarily focused on increasing STEM degree production for historically underrepresented students) from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Labor, the Department of Education, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the New York State Education Department, the Gluck Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Beyond her administrative prowess, Strempel is also a noted international opera singer (including starring at the famed Bolshoi Opera as Violetta in La Traviata); she was honored as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts by President Reagan at the White House. Dr. Strempel’s musical interests focus on the compositions of women composers, and the breadth her musical scholarly work includes eight recordings, dozens of commissions, articles, and edited volumes that examine the political, social, and musical contexts of the most influential female composers of our time.

Strempel’s higher education research is focused on expanding access to education (especially in STEM fields, for underserved populations), as an academic leader she weaves together her research as a higher education scholar with best practices for on-campus operationalization. As a nationally recognized expert in higher education policy, she views access to education as one of the principal social justice issues of our time. Her dedication to this cause is evident in her co-authored works, including the recently released book, Beyond Free College: Making Higher Education Work for 21st Century Students, co-written with Stephen J. Handel. This marks her third collaboration with Handel, following the success of their previous publications: Transition and Transformation: Fostering Transfer Student Success and Transition and Transformation: New Research Fostering Transfer Student Success. Strempel’s expertise has made her a sought-after figure in the field; she shares her insights through op-eds for outlets such as Inside Higher Education, The Medium, Trusteeship Magazine and the LA Times. Additionally, she has presented her research findings in a congressional briefing, providing her enrollment management expertise to policymakers and higher education leaders navigating the complexities of post-pandemic educational landscape.

Strempel has held a wide variety of leadership positions. From 2015 to 2018, she served as the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Cincinnati. Prior to that, she served in a variety of roles at Syracuse University over a seventeen-year span, where she was awarded a Kauffman Foundation Professorship and the prestigious ACE Fellowship (with a placement at Colgate University). Strempel received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, her doctorate from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and has completed Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management. She has served both as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow and a 2022-23 Fellow in the AGB Institute for Leadership and Governance in Higher Education. Especially dedicated to the mentorship and sponsorship of women in leadership, she is a contributing author in the newly released book, Thriving as a Woman in Leadership in Higher Education.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Strempel is a devoted mother of two sons and an avid marathon runner. She is on the boards of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students, the American Council of Education’s Women’s Network Executive Council and is both secretary and president-elect of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans.

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