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December 4, 2007


CSU Dominguez Hills Mourns Loss of
Respected Professor, Colleague

(Carson, CA) Rodney H. Butler, professor of music at California State University, Dominguez Hills, died at his home on Tuesday, Nov. 27. The cause of death is unknown but believed to be heart failure. The Redondo Beach resident was 60 years old.

“Rod Butler was one of our own, and one of our best,” says Dominguez Hills president Mildred García. “He was a wonderful mentor who cared deeply about our university and its people. Time and again in [his] conversations and smiles, he would convey his enthusiasm about Cal State Dominguez Hills. He was proud of the accomplishments of his students and colleagues and was invested in their futures.”

“With his clear vision and pointed humor, Rod contributed to our lives in countless ways,” said Jerry Moore, professor of anthropology. “He was a constant champion of academic freedom, educational excellence and human decency.”

Butler served in a number of capacities at the university in addition to teaching. He was chair of the Academic Senate, chair of the Division of Performing, Visual and Digital Arts and chair of the Department of Music within the College of Arts and Humanities. As a leader, his colleagues looked to him to bridge what is often seen as a divide between faculty and administrators.

“Rod’s death has robbed us of an outstanding leader of the senate who helped to build a positive and productive relationship between the administration and the faculty,” said Munashe Furusa, associate professor and chair of Africana studies. “He was a great mentor to many of us on the Senate Executive Committee and helped us clarify a lot of issues. We will always cherish his desire and ability to build relationships, his dedication and commitment to the well-being of our campus, and his vision and pointed humor. Our thoughts go to his family and all the people whose lives he touched in one way or another.”

Butler’s students were able to depend on him for guidance during their time at Dominguez Hills and for many, long after graduation. Laura Robles, dean of graduate studies and research, said her most vivid memory of Butler was “his ear-to-ear smile. I saw him smile like that at [our campus’] Student Research Day this year when the jazz and guitar ensembles performed at the luncheon. He was so proud of them as performers and as students. I was touched at that moment by the love he had for his department and their music.”

The Southern California native was born on Sept. 26, 1947. He graduated high school from Carson High School and went on to Los Angeles Harbor Junior College, where he got his Associate of Arts degree. A Dominguez Hills alumnus (Class of ’73), Butler pursued his graduate studies at the Musikhogskolen in Oslo, Norway, and the University of Oslo. He completed his Master of Arts degree and doctorate in music theory and composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He began his career at Dominguez Hills in 1991 following his tenure as music faculty and division chair of fine arts at Brookhaven Community College in Dallas, Tex. from 1980 to 1991. Prior to that, he served as head of the music department at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. from 1977 to 1979.

Butler was a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and held membership in many scholarly and professional organizations including Phi Mu Alpha, the Society of Music Theorists, and the National Association of American Composers and Conductors. Among his honors are grants and awards from the American Scandinavian Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the University of California Foreign Study Grant, and First Prize in the All Army Composers Arrangers Contest in 1968.

An accomplished trombonist, composer, and music theorist, Butler also turned his talents to cooking, golfing, and golf club manufacturing.

“It occurs to me that the highest tribute that we can pay to our colleague is continuing to pursue his hope of restoring the feelings of community that makes CSUDH truly different from other institutions,” says Gary Levine, emeritus faculty, interdisciplinary studies.

Butler is survived by daughter Amanda Fagan, a local Southern California resident; son Benjamin Butler of Dallas; son Andrew Butler and his wife, Adi, of the Maryland/Washington D.C. area; and brother and sister-in-law, Dennis and Judi Butler, of Costa Mesa.

A small memorial service is being planned this Friday on campus. Donations are being accepted in Rod Butler’s name to the CSUDH Department of Music. The department plans to establish a Rod Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund for students majoring in jazz or composition. To inquire about making a donation, call (310) 243-3543.

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About CSU Dominguez Hills -- California State University, Dominguez Hills is a highly diverse, urban university located in the South Bay, primarily serving the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The university prides itself on its outstanding faculty and friendly, student-centered environment. Known for excellence in teacher education, nursing, psychology, business administration, and digital media arts, new degree programs include computer science, criminal justice, recreation and leisure studies, social work, and communication disorders. On campus is the Home Depot Center, a multi-purpose sports complex that hosts world-class soccer, tennis, track and field, lacrosse, and cycling.




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(310) 243-2455

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