Renowned Educator Warrick Carter Dies at 75


Dr. Warrick L. Carter (1942–2017)

(Photo: Courtesy Columbia College Chicago)

Dr. Warrick L. Carter, an acclaimed music educator who served at numerous educational institutions—including Columbia College Chicago and the Berklee College of Music—died on July 15 in Sanford, Florida, after a brief illness. He was 75.

A gifted musician, Carter created commissioned works for the National Endowment for the Arts, Chicago Symphony Orchestral Association and Chicago Chamber Orchestra. His discography includes recordings for Mark Records and Capitol Records.

He performed at numerous jazz festivals, including the Montreux Jazz Festival. Among the long list of artists with whom he performed are Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Quincy Jones, the Boston Pops Jazz Quartet and Dizzy Gillespie.

Carter’s honors included the National Black Music Caucus Achievement Award, Michigan State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award and induction in the International Jazz Educators Hall of Fame.

Carter was born on May 6, 1942, in Charlottesville, Virginia. As a boy, he and his brothers sang in a local church choir. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree from Tennessee State University, where he played in the university’s marching band.

Carter pursued advanced studies in percussion at the Blair Academy of Music in Nashville. He sharpened his playing skills through his love for jazz, and often performed at Nashville venues.

His first job after college was as an instrumental music instructor and band director at Alton Park Junior High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Carter earned a master’s degree in music in 1966 and Ph.D. in music education in 1971, both from Michigan State University. While completing his doctoral studies, he was an assistant professor and director of bands at the University of Maryland–Eastern Shore in Princess Anne.

Carter’s career included work for many organizations, as detailed below.

Governors State University
Upon completion of his doctoral studies, Carter served as a professor of music and chairman of the division of fine and performing arts at Governors State University in Chicago. He established the Governors State Jazz Band, which performed at prestigious music festivals.

Berklee College of Music
In 1984, Carter accepted the position of Dean of The Faculty and Provost/Vice President Academic Affairs at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Two of his biggest accomplishments at Berklee were averting a faculty strike during contract negotiations and developing an international student exchange program with France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Greece, Israel and Germany.

The Walt Disney Company
Carter worked at Walt Disney Entertainment in Orlando, Florida, for four years as a director of entertainment arts. He was responsible for developing global education and live arts programs for the entire company.

Columbia College Chicago
In 2000, Carter became Columbia College Chicago’s ninth president and the first African-American to lead the institution. During Carter’s tenure (2000–’13), he oversaw the transformation of the college from a locally known commuter school into an established residential campus with an international student body. Under his leadership, the urban campus expanded to include additional classroom, office, exhibition, performance and residence-hall spaces.

He also oversaw the development of Columbia College Chicago’s first newly constructed building, the Media Production Center, which opened for classes in 2010.

Carter not only formalized the dean positions, but he also oversaw the creation of Columbia College Chicago’s school structure: School of Fine and Performing Arts, School of Media Arts, and School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He also established the Student Affairs division, which provides students with vital support in campus life outside of the classroom.

Carter championed several new programs and initiatives at Columbia College Chicago, including Manifest, the annual urban arts festival for graduating students, and ShopColumbia, the commercial venue for students to showcase and sell their work.

Education Assignments
A recognized leader on music education and minority issues in the arts, Carter taught at or consulted for many diverse organizations, including Wisconsin Music Educators, Michigan Council for the Arts, Philadelphia Public Schools, Los Angeles Board of Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, Minister of Culture of France, Northwestern University and Grambling State University.

Additionally, Carter lectured and published on the arts, music education, jazz and African-American music history at many institutions and conferences globally.

Professional Appointments
Carter served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Panel and the executive director of the National Black Music Caucus.

One of Carter’s nephews, Stanford Strong of Atlanta, issued a statement, which read, in part: “My uncle … played the drums as vibrantly as he lived his life; and through education, he showed his students how far they could go with music. … Beyond his career in music education, my uncle was an avid world traveler with the ability to live out of a small carry-on for two weeks at a time … . [His] love for the very best in life and his love for the city of Chicago did not diminish his small-town charm, and he could quickly relate to people from all walks of life.”

Carter is survived by his wife, Laurel Carter; a daughter, Keisha Noel, and son-in-law, Daniel; grandchildren Warrick Carter Noel and Ellison Ann Noel; brothers Charles (JoAnn) and Orlanda (Mary); nephews Stanford Strong, Jeff Strong, Paul Fleming (Kim), and Whyton Carter (Tracy); and a niece, Charlene Gladney (Eric).

A memorial service will be held this fall in Chicago, on a date to be determined. DB

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