COTA’s Torres-Santos Looking Expand Students’ UniversePublished: February 1, 2012
When Raymond Torres-Santos first arrived at CSULB last fall to be the new dean of the College of the Arts, he completed a cycle that began in 1980.
His first faculty appointment came that year at CSU San Bernardino where he served as coordinator of electronic and commercial music programs. “Cal State Long Beach is a wonderful university in a wonderful system,” he said. “I’m proud that the College of the Arts is one of the most prominent colleges on campus. I felt I already knew my way about campus because I know my way around the CSU. It feels like I already belong here.”
Before he became a university administrator, Torres-Santos built a record of accomplishment as a musician that includes compositions (instrumental, vocal and electronic), conducting, performances (piano and keyboards) and recordings. After five years at CSU San Bernardino, he moved to the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras where he served as director of the Center for Music Technology and then as chair for the music department.
As an administrator, Torres-Santos feels he sees the organizational structure that needs to be followed just as an architect sees the structure of a building. “What seemed to be a line from job to job actually was a loop that brought me back to the CSU,” he said. “I have been exposed to many positions that helped to prepare me for this job. Isn’t it interesting how things occur?”
In 1994, Torres-Santos was named chancellor of the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music. Under his leadership, the conservatory developed and implemented a five-year institutional strategic plan resulting in operational autonomy and a boost in the budget from the legislature. He returned to the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras in 1997. In 2000, Torres-Santos was appointed as visiting professor at Hunter College and served on the CUNY faculties of Hunter College and Hostos Community College until 2008, when he was selected to serve as Dean of the College of the Arts and Communication at William Paterson University in New Jersey.
The Long Beach resident was born in Puerto Rico and is a graduate of Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in music from UCLA, completed post-doctoral studies in Europe at Ferienkurse fur Neue Musik in Germany and at the University of Padua in Italy. He also studied at the Eastman School of Music and at Harvard University.
As a composer, his catalog ranges from orchestral and chamber music including work for film, theater, television and radio. One of his most prominent commissions is the “1898 Overture” for the Puerto Rican government’s centennial celebration. As an arranger, he has worked for such artists as Frank Sinatra, Julio Iglesias and Plácido Domingo as well as with Hollywood film composers such as Ralph Burns and Ry Cooder. He has received awards from ASCAP, BMI, Meet the Composer, American Composers Forum and the American Music Center.
His scholarly work focuses on music education, creativity, multiculturalism, music criticism and inter-disciplinary studies. His recent articles and book chapters have appeared in peer-reviewed journals and books from Hofstra University and the Cambridge Scholar Publishing.
Torres-Santos believes today’s university must offer a global education and that travel is a mechanism that helps a university’s faculty members to know the world.
“It is the responsibility of the administration to provide that mechanism,” he said. “We have the opportunity to study the larger world because we are in Long Beach. This is a port city with a window on the Pacific Rim. I will look for any collaboration that will foster global education.”
Torres-Santos seeks to expand partnerships that will offer travel opportunities.
“I want this college to think about partnering with other colleges on other campuses,” he said. “I see the day when CSULB students are sent to New York and Milan routinely. We are seeking civil engagement with the community. That engagement doesn’t always have to mean New York. There are opportunities right here in Long Beach.” He wants College of the Arts students to understand that they are part of a larger world.
“I want to redefine the role of artists in our society,” he said. “I want our students to get comfortable with subjects that involve emotion and help them to become part of the human fabric. Just to reach this point, our students have passed rigorous competitions. This gives the university students who are really superb. We are fortunate in the College of the Arts to have the crème de la crème.”
Torres-Santos points to the College of the Arts’ long list of achievements but cautions that now is not the time for the university to rest on its laurels. “We have to keep challenging and pushing our students and ourselves. There are discoveries to make, boundaries to break both in the world of art and in ourselves as artists.”
Torres-Santos believes that part of the university’s mission is to preserve something no other institution can – curiosity.
“Curiosity is the key to improvement in any discipline,” he said. “The university fosters a sense of self and an evolving self-image. I want our students to know there is something bigger. This is a university. I want to give our students the universe.”