Office of the Provost

Provost's Senior Staff

Lester Monts

Lester Monts

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Professor of Music (Ethnomusicology)

Lester P. Monts is the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Senior Counselor to the President for the Arts, Diversity and Undergraduate Affairs, and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Music.

As the senior vice provost, Monts works with the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs on matters related to budget, tenure and promotion, enrollment, and a broad range of academic issues. He oversees operations of sixteen central administrative units, including five centers and eleven academic service units.

Monts has served on the music faculties of Edinboro University, University of Minnesota, Case Western Reserve University and the University of California at Santa Barbara. From 1988 to 1993, he served as dean of undergraduate affairs in the College of Letters and Science, where he directed Santa Barbara's undergraduate honors program.

Monts has focused his scholarly research on the musical and cultural systems among the Vai people of Liberia and is regarded as one of the world's leading scholars on music and culture in the Guinea coast region of West Africa. His book, Vai Musical Language, is published by the Societe d'Etudes Linguistiques et Anthropologiques de France; it explores Vai folk etymologies related to the intersection between music and other linguistic phenomena. His current research focuses on the influence of Islam on the continuity and change of music in funerary rituals among the Vai. He has published in numerous scholarly journals, such as Anthropos: International Review of Ethnology and Linguistics, Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines, The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, African Arts, and the Liberian Studies Journal. He has presented his research at the conferences of many national and international learned societies, including the Society for Ethnomusicology, the African Studies Association, and American Anthropological Association.

A professional trumpeter, Monts has performed with numerous orchestras, including the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Santa Barbara Symphony and the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra. He also served as principal trumpet for the Allegheny Summer Music Festival and the Music Festival of Arkansas.

Monts has memberships in the African Studies Association, the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Liberian Studies Association and the College Music Society. He is the past chair of the governing board of the University of Michigan International Institute, a member of the governing board and research associate of the International Centre for African Music and Dance and a member of the Committee for Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and a past member of the visiting committee for the department of music at Harvard University. He is chair of the College Board’s board of trustees.  His former roles with the College Board have included service to the Academic Assembly Council as Midwestern regional representative and chair.


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