Robert Pierce to Retire as Peabody's Director By Dennis O'Shea Robert O. Pierce, who restored both the academic reputation of the Peabody Institute and its fiscal health, has announced his intention to retire as the institute's director. Pierce was appointed Peabody's director in 1983 after two years as dean and acting director of the 137-year-old institute, a division of the university since 1977. He said he will step down after the current academic year. "As much as I have valued the privilege of serving this historic and prestigious institution as director for the past 13 years . . . I must admit to being in need of a change," Pierce wrote last week in a letter to the Peabody faculty. "I have no doubt, though, that change will be good for the Peabody as well, for new leadership will bring fresh ideas and renewed energy." Pierce, 60, a member of the Peabody faculty since 1958, took over the directorship at a time when the institute's endowment was only about $2 million and its conservatory had faded from the top ranks of American music schools. The Peabody endowment is now projected to reach $45 million by 1996. The conservatory's distinguished faculty has attracted a record enrollment of about 600 to a school again considered one of the nation's finest. Peabody students and young alumni regularly capture top prizes in major music competitions around the world, including the Tchaikovsky in Moscow and the Queen Elisabeth in Belgium. Pierce also has overseen planning and construction of major facilities, including the institute's renovated concert hall, the Library and Teaching Building and the new Peabody Inn, headquarters for Peabody's Elderhostel program. "Bob Pierce has provided extraordinary leadership during very difficult times," said university president Wil-liam C. Richardson, who came to Johns Hopkins just as the financially stressed Peabody embarked on a successful 1990 campaign to stave off extinction with a combination of private gifts and a generous Maryland state aid package. "He has kept the Peabody, its faculty, students and staff not just on an even keel, but moving ahead on all fronts," Dr. Rich-ardson said. "He's someone in whom people have confidence and whom they admire because of his ability to lead during difficult times. We will miss him greatly." "Bob Pierce is a hero in all regards, the personification of a decent person," said Jacques Schlenger, a Baltimore attorney and chair of the Peabody Advisory Board. "He's been indefatigable as a fund-raiser, has always kept his eyes on the future of the institution, and been a joy to work with." Joseph Cooper, provost of Johns Hopkins, said he will chair a committee to conduct a nationwide search for the Peabody's next director. "It will be enormously difficult to replace someone who blends artistic judgment, administrative skill, personal integrity and congenial good humor to such a high degree," Dr. Cooper said. "As a professional and a human being, Bob has left his mark on one of Baltimore's finest institutions and we are all very much in his debt for what he has achieved at the Peabody." Pierce was principal horn of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 1958 to 1982. He earned his bachelor's degree with high honors from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1958 and a master's degree there in 1960. He received the New England Conservatory's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1982.
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