John Pymm was appointed in August 2013 as the founding Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Wolverhampton. The Faculty brings together all of the University’s arts provision and contains four Schools: Creative Arts and Design; Humanities; Media; and Performing Arts. As Dean, John is responsible for the strategic leadership of the Faculty as a whole, which has 440 staff, and approximately 3000 students. His vision is to nurture and grow this thriving, energetic and diverse arts community where research, learning & teaching and professional practice are of international significance and make a transformative impact on the arts landscape of the West Midlands region.
John has an impressive international profile in the arts, borne of three decades of experience. A graduate of the University of Birmingham, he also holds a postgraduate teaching qualification from Cardiff University and a taught Master’s degree from the University of Exeter. His MPhil thesis was supervised at the University of London School of Advanced Study by Professor Peter Dickinson and consists of an analytical exploration of Steve Reich’s Tehillim.
John’s doctoral thesis was supervised by Professor David Nichols at the University of Southampton and is entitled Narrative Trails in the Speech-Based Music of Steve Reich.
A respected scholar in the music of American composer Steve Reich, John is a founder member of the Society for Minimalist Music, and was, in October 2013, elected as its President at the Society’s Fourth International Conference hosted jointly by UCLA and CalState University, Long Beach, California. Based on his doctoral and post-doctoral research at the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel, Switzerland, John has delivered papers at a number of international conferences and is, most recently, a contributor to The Ashgate Research Companion to Minimalist and Post-Minimalist Music (Ashgate, 2013).
John has also achieved national and international recognition for his work in curriculum development and assessment in the arts. He has led curriculum development initiatives in Kyrgyzstan and Singapore and has set up a number of Trans-National partnerships with Higher Education Institutes across Asia and Europe. John is the University’s ambassador for Central and South America and represents the institution in developing links in this economically vibrant region. A champion of innovative approaches to learning and teaching, he ran a practice-based cross-University research cluster entitled Podadogy between 2005 and 2009, which investigated the use of the iPod as a disruptive technology in arts education.
An enthusiastic champion of developing links with the arts curriculum in UK secondary schools, John is Chief Examiner for A Level Performance Studies and the author of a number of textbooks including, A Guide to A Level Performance Studies (Hodder, 2009) and Performance Studies for A Level (Rhinegold, 2004, 2006).
Prior to taking up the role of Dean of Faculty, John was Dean of the School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure. During his time in that role, he led significant increases in student numbers, research capacity and links with the emerging commercial sector of UK Higher Education and set up the University’s first partnership with a commercial provider, the Academy of Music and Sound. A defining moment of John’s vision for the arts was the launch of The Performance Hub, opened by Gareth Malone in November 2011, an £18m landmark state-of-the-art Arts complex on the University’s Walsall Campus. At the same time, John led the University’s successful bid to achieve all-Steinway status, only the third university in the UK to achieve this esteemed award from the world’s most prestigious piano manufacturer.
John is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors. Many colleagues have spoken of his empowering leadership approach, and in May 2012, John was described by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) as ‘a consummate professional, who represents everything this university stands for in terms of believing in, supporting and developing student aspiration through to real achievement. John has taken his own enthusiasm for the performing arts and 21st-century university learning to a level of institutional inspiration.’