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Stanford Report, January 5, 2000

'Life and soul' of Music Department


Ann Dolber has brought harmony into the lives of her colleagues.

A secretary in the Music Department for 19 years, Dolber last month was honored with the 1999 Arnice P. Streit Award for outstanding contributions as an administrator in the School of Humanities and Sciences.

The award, now in its 12th year, carries a $3,000 prize.

"Annie, the life, soul and guardian of the Stanford Music Department," is how Professor Stephen Hinton, chairman of the department and her supervisor, described Dolber in his nomination letter, one of 17 submitted on her behalf.

Dolber, 52, is known for her coordination and networking skills. "In the department and outside of it, Annie's greatest gift is her ability to make connections between people who can help each other," said Heather Hadlock, assistant professor of musicology.

"Whether working through the bureaucracy to solve a student's problem, revising the class schedule to accommodate a faculty member, or using a phrase spoken by a visitor as the lead to break into song and enliven the office, Annie leads us not only by example, but by personality," Mark Dalrymple, a technician in the department, wrote in his endorsement.

As secretary to the chairman of the department of music/graduate students, Dolber often is the first contact for newcomers. From admission through the filing of the dissertation, Dolber is a fixture in the lengthy path toward a degree. She's also helped design new courses and paired animal seekers with new pets.

Dolber never thought when she graduated with a bachelor of science degree in secretarial sciences from Russell Sage College in her native Troy, N.Y., that she'd spend most of her professional life on the West Coast. Dolber, who came to Stanford in 1973 when her former husband enrolled at the university, plans to retire in fall 2002 to her ancestral home in Vermont so she can be near her aging mother.

Dolber minored in French, studied in France and landed her Stanford job partly because Professor Albert Cohen, then the Music Department chairman whose specialty was French Baroque, wanted a French-speaking secretary.

The position appealed to Dolber since music has been her avocation and she has been singing since she could talk. She participated in various church choirs and performed with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus for 13 years. A charter member of the chorus, Dolber worked under many conductors during that period and found that each interpreted a selection differently: "It always sort of took on new life."

At Stanford, Dolber knew of Streit, a former senior administrator in the School of Humanities and Sciences who retired 12 years ago as associate dean of finance, and looked up to her.

So Dolber was surprised and honored to be chosen for the award. "I never even thought of myself in the running," she says. Dolber had been out ill two weeks prior to the award announcement ceremony and had missed the flurry of nomination activity in the department.

At the award ceremony, five past winners were presented with $1,000 each, to make up for their not receiving money with their honor during the 1989-1993 period when the endowment, established anonymously, was low on funds. Those winners are Bettye Price (1989) of biological sciences; Monica Moore (1991) of interdisciplinary studies; Barbara Fairlie (1991) of mathematics; Dagmar Logie (1992) of English; and Gina Wein (1993) of linguistics.

A selection committee composed of administrative staff, faculty and the previous year's honoree chooses the winners. SR