School of Music Director Aleks Sternfeld-Dunn leaving WSU after 10 years


Khánh Nguyễn

Aleks Sternfeld-Dunn, director of the School of Music, teaches his 8 a.m. aural skills class Tuesday. Sternfeld-Dunn has been a faculty member at WSU since 2011. He became director in 2018.

After ten years of being a faculty member, Director of the School of Music and current Faculty Senate President Aleks Sternfeld-Dunn will be leaving WSU.

“It won’t be goodbye,” he said. “But it’ll be hard.”

Sternfeld-Dunn started his career at WSU in 2011, and since then, he has taught many music and arts classes and held a number of positions for the university.

Some of the classes he has taught over the years include courses in music theory, music technology, arts leadership, and intro to fine arts.

In addition, Sternfeld-Dunn has been the Faculty Senate President this school year and has been the director of the School of Music for the past three years.

Sternfeld-Dunn will be leaving to pursue an opportunity at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where he will take on a position as the dean of the college of arts and sciences. As the largest college in the university, Sternfeld-Dunn will be in charge of all fine arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, and some engineering programs.

“It will be a very big change but I’m excited,” said Sternfeld-Dunn. “I love Wichita State. I love my job, but this was just an exciting opportunity that I wanted to explore. And as I explored it more and more, it just felt like the right thing to try and do.”

Sternfeld-Dunn said his passion will always be teaching.

“My identity is a teacher,” he said. “I will always call myself a teacher first,” 

One of his favorite things about teaching is being able to help students discover worlds they had not previously thought about. He also enjoys when his students challenge him.

“The other thing I love is that through the students I sort of keep engaged with things that are happening in popular society,” Sternfeld-Dunn said.

But Sternfeld-Dunn has another passion besides teaching — composing music. He has written music for ensembles, orchestras, and solo instruments that has been played across the world in parts of Asia, Canada, Europe, and most of the U.S.

“My music tends to deal most recently w/ issues of social justice and politics, but I’ve decided that in the last 5 years, a lot of my music is focused on societal issues that I think art can draw attention to,” Sternfeld-Dunn said. “And so I want to use my art to do that.”

One thing Sternfeld-Dunn says he will miss about WSU is the people. 

“WSU is full of great faculty, great staff, and great students,” said Sternfeld-Dunn. “And every person I’ve come across on this campus has impacted my life in some way and made me better as a person, as a faculty member, and as an administrator.”

The university has made him feel appreciated not just for the work he has done, but also simply for who he is and what he brings to the campus.

“That second part is really hard,” Sternfeld-Dunn said. “But, I have always felt appreciated for just being here and contributing to the fabric of the campus. And that, I think, is rare.”

“And I love that about this place. It’s a place that wants to see each other succeed.”