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In Memoriam: Boston College Music Dept. Inaugural Chair Anne Dhu McLucas

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (September 2012)Anne Dhu McLucas (formerly Shapiro), the inaugural chairperson of Boston College’s Music Department, was a victim in a double homicide that occurred Sept. 7 near Eugene, Ore., where she had been living for the past five years. She was 71.

Anne Dhu McLucas
Anne Dhu McLucas

Dr. McLucas, who had served as dean of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance for 10 years and was to retire from teaching in December, was slain along with her domestic partner, 73-year-old James Gillette, according to police. A man identified as the son of Mr. Gillette was arrested and was arraigned Sept. 10 on two counts of aggravated murder.

An ethnomusicologist as well as a pianist and harpsichordist, Dr. McLucas joined the Boston College faculty in 1987 as an adjunct associate professor and acting director of the music program (she had taught as an instructor from 1969-72). She became associate professor and chair when the program was elevated to full departmental status prior to the 1988-89 academic year; music became a formal major in 1989.

During her tenure, the department built its curriculum, inaugurated its “Music at Mid-day” concert series, and held a special week of concerts and lectures commemorating the birth of Mozart. Under Dr. McLucas, the department also sponsored with the Irish Studies Program an annual Irish music festival that was the precursor to the University’s popular Gaelic Roots Music, Song and Dance Summer School, now a concert, workshop and lecture series.

“It has been quite a time,” said Dr. McLucas, in an interview with Boston College Biweekly at the end of her final semester at BC, in 1992, before she left for the University of Oregon. “Clearly, there were many people at BC who were ready to experience music on a wide range. I think we have fashioned a unique department, one that respects all kinds of music and reaches out to all kinds of musicians.”

Following her 10-year stint as dean at the University of Oregon School of Music — one of her achievements, according to colleagues, was helping secure state funding for a $19.2 million building renovation — Dr. McLucas served as a professor of music and from 2004-08 as chair of the Musicology and Ethnomusicology Department. Her honors and fellowships included a term as a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar at the University of Edinburgh and the Oregon Music Educators Association “Administrator of the Year” award for 2000.

Dr. McLucas held degrees from the University of Colorado and Harvard University. In addition to BC and Oregon, she taught at Harvard, Wellesley College and Colorado College.

She is survived by her sister, Caye Dhu Geer, her son, Jacob Shapiro, and three grandchildren.

—Sean Smith is editor of the Boston College Chronicle;