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John H. Slate

Ezra William Doty
Ezra William “Bill” Doty. As the first dean of the College of Fine Arts, Doty assembled a renowned faculty in art, drama, and music at the University of Texas at Austin. Collection of E. W. and Elinor Doty.

DOTY, EZRA WILLIAM [BILL] (1907–1994). Ezra William “Bill” Doty, music educator, scholar, and organist, was born in Grand Ledge, Michigan, on April 29, 1907, to William Ezra Doty, a Methodist minister, and Fannie A. (Daniells) Doty. Doty attended Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan, from which he received four degrees from 1927 through 1936: Bachelor of Arts in Education, Bachelor of Music, Master of Arts in Philosophy, and Doctor of Philosophy in Aesthetics. In 1931 he studied in Paris with Joseph Bonnet, and from 1932 to 1933 he studied at the University of Leipzig under Karl Straube. At the University of Michigan he was a pupil of the eminent organist Palmer Christian.

Doty taught at the University of Illinois and at the University of Michigan. In May 1937 the Texas legislature passed a bill authorizing and funding the establishment of the University of Texas College of Fine Arts. The college had to be activated by the academic year 1938–39 or the funding would lapse. Doty was selected as dean after a nationwide search, and he moved to Austin in April 1938. As dean of the College of Fine Arts, chairman of the music department, and professor of music, Doty assembled a renowned faculty in art, drama, and music; wrote a catalog; purchased equipment; prepared a budget; and organized curricula.

Doty taught courses in form and analysis, music literature, American music, aesthetics, philosophy, and fine arts administration; he also taught a number of distinguished organ students. Additionally, he taught classes in church music at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. He served as organist at several Austin churches and performed solo organ recitals throughout the country, also frequently appearing as a lecturer or consultant. Doty composed several musical works, and in 1947 his text, The Analysis of Form in Music, was published by D. Appleton Crofts.

From 1955 to 1958 Doty served as president of the National Association of Schools of Music; for six years, he was that organization’s representative to the American Council on Education. He served as president of the Texas Music Teachers Association from 1947 to 1949, and he served two terms as president of the Texas Association of Music Schools between 1949 and 1955. Other memberships included active roles in the Music Teachers National Association, the Music Educators National Conference, and the Texas Federation of Music Clubs. Doty was an honorary life member in the National Federation of Music Clubs.

In addition he was a board member of the Texas Fine Arts Association and the Greater New York Chapter of the American National Theatre and Academy, and he was a charter member of the National Council of the Arts in Education. He organized the International Council of Fine Arts Deans in 1964 and served as its first chairman. He was also instrumental in founding the American Association of the Arts in Higher Education. He devoted his professional efforts to teaching, administration, and the establishment of accreditation standards and procedures, and he was an examiner/consultant for numerous schools throughout the country. Acknowledged for his consultant skills, Doty served as executive director of the Office of Cultural Affairs in New York City in 1964–65 during a leave of absence from the University of Texas.

He was a member of numerous honorary societies including Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Delta Kappa, the Philosophical Society of Texas, and the Bohemians. He was also active in civic and cultural affairs in the city of Austin. Among his major accomplishments as dean of the College of Fine Arts and chairman of the music department was the construction of the university’s first music building in 1941–42. The structure was also the first air-conditioned building on campus. A drama building was dedicated in 1962, and the art building and Archer Huntington Museum in 1963–64.

In 1965 Dr. Doty retired as chairman of the music department but retained the titles of dean of the College of Fine Arts and professor of music and continued to teach. He retired in 1972. Doty was married to Elinor Wortley in 1934 and had three children. He was an Episcopalian. E. William Doty died on June 16, 1994, and was entombed at Memorial Hill Park Mausoleum in Austin. A scholarship fund had been established in his name in 1962. In 1998 the E. William Doty Fine Arts Building on the UT campus was named in his honor. 


E. William Doty, History of the College of Fine Arts, The University of Texas at Austin, 1938–1988 (Austin: Morgan Printing Company, 1989). “In Memoriam: E. William Doty,” University of Texas at Austin Faculty Council (http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/1999-2000/memorials/Doty/doty.html), accessed January 12, 2011. Charlotte Key Marrow, Ezra William Doty, Organist and Pedagogue (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1998).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, John H. Slate, "DOTY, EZRA WILLIAM [BILL]," accessed June 04, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdo58.

Uploaded on June 26, 2014. Modified on November 1, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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