poole headshot
  • Director, Butler School of Music
  • Professor of Musicology
  • Florence Thelma Hall Centennial Chair in Music
Office Phone: 512-471-3157
Office Location: MRH 3.834B
  • Musicology


Director's Office

Education PhD, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; MM, Michigan State University; BM, Baylor University

Research Areas Turn-of-the-century Parisian cabaret; music and politics; music as social "uplift"

About Before beginning work as director of the Butler School of Music in June 2014, Mary Ellen Poole served for ten years as dean of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she increased enrollment, built a renowned faculty, and oversaw construction of an $80 million facility in the heart of the city's arts district. She is known in the Bay Area for her partnerships with civic organizations, including the San Francisco Opera, and she helped to internationalize the Conservatory's programs and student body.

Dr. Poole joined the San Francisco Conservatory after 18 years at Millikin University in Illinois, where she was named director of the School of Music in 1997. Before her appointment as director, she taught honors humanities, chamber music, Western music history, jazz history, world music, and flute. In 2002, her colleagues recognized her achievements with the university's Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award.

As a musicologist, her research, publications, and presentations have focused on fin-de-siècle Paris: cabaret chansons and chansonniers, music as political propaganda during the Radical Republic, and the ideology of teaching music to the working class. She is currently active as a visiting evaluator and has been a member of the Commission on Accreditation for the National Association of Schools of Music. She is lead faculty at the Eastman Leadership Conference each summer.

A native of Louisiana, Dr. Poole earned degrees in flute performance from Baylor University and Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Illinois at Urbana.

Courses MUS 176M Musical Lives