Retiring Music Professor honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

As the capstone of a rich and vibrant career spanning 30 years, Dr. Mary Boyle (Music) was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) at their annual conference in November in Cleveland, OH.

At a retirement reception on campus in her honor, Boyle also learned that the College has formed the Dr. Mary Boyle Scholarship. The scholarship will be presented each year to an outstanding music therapy student selected by Boyle in consultation with the music faculty. Contributions to this scholarship may be made to the SUNY New Paltz Foundation.

Service to New Paltz and beyond
A faculty member at SUNY New Paltz since 1981, Boyle will retire on Dec. 22 from her positions of full professor and director of the Music Therapy Program. Her exemplary service at New Paltz has included chair of the Music Department, head of the Music Therapy Graduate Program, and chair of the SUNY New Paltz Institutional Review Board. She has developed a licensure qualifying graduate music therapy program and received the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1990.

Additionally, Boyle served as a member of the Board of Editors of “Music Therapy Perspectives” and “The Behavior Analyst.” She currently serves as a member of the Board of Editors of the “Journal of Music Therapy.”

Celebrating a stellar career
A special celebration honoring Boyle was sponsored by the Music Therapy Graduate Program and the Music Department on Dec. 15. Current and former students, friends and faculty honored Boyle for her many achievements and service to New Paltz and to the world of music therapy. Boyle’s warm, approachable personality is one of her hallmarks.

“One of the things that I loved during my time working here is that we communicate with each other,” Boyle said during her acknowledgement speech. Colleague Dr. Montserrat Gimeno (Music Therapy) was moved by Boyle’s words. Gimeno said “I was particularly touched because this is one of the most challenging things that human beings experience, to be able to communicate well with everyone.”

Eleanor Dennis, a former colleague of Dr. Boyle, said, “I know that it’s impossible to imagine a list of all the people and programs that have benefitted from Mary’s guidance and dedication and expert advice. I, for one, remain very grateful for all Mary has given me.”

Those in attendance shared memories, photos, memorabilia, and played a multiple-choice game about Boyle. Several students and the music therapy club performed. Her retirement gift was a voice-activated computer word processor.

Boyle’s impact on the students and faculty in the Music Therapy Department is visceral and palpable.

Elisa Clark ’01, ‘10g (Music Therapy), a current lecturer in the Music Department, said, “Mary was the reason that I transferred to New Paltz and is the person who provided me with the motivation to take a management position as coordinator of music therapy at a hospice agency. She also guided me as an adjunct, a teaching assistant, and, now, a full-time lecturer at New Paltz. I am deeply indebted to Mary’s kindness, patience, wisdom, and leadership.”

Said Terry Blaine ‘08g (Music Therapy), “I feel so blessed to have had Mary Boyle as my teacher for my entire music therapy experience at SUNY New Paltz. Mary taught us so much, but I think the most valuable thing has simply been her loving presence, which has been an inspiration and a foundation for students to stand upon. She helped us believe before we believed, soldier on when the going got rough, and remember the path back to ourselves when we got lost. I carry her in my heart and in my work, and always will. What a gift she has given to all of us!”

Boyle’s service to the AMTA was recognized by the MAR Service Award, and AMTA National Service and Presidential Awards. She was president of the Mid-Atlantic Region from 1989-91 and served several terms on the Assembly of Delegates. Boyle was a member of the AMTA Board of Directors and has chaired the Investment Sub-committee since 1994. Informed by her own work experience on Wall Street, she has successfully guided AMTA’s long-term investment portfolio contributing to a secure financial foundation for the association.

Boyle has published widely on the topic of music therapy and comatose patients, and has been interviewed in “Psychology Today” regarding her research with comatose patients. Her research has been published in the “Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,” the “Journal of Music Therapy,” and the “Journal of Behavioral Education.” With Dr. Robert Krout, she co-authored the “Music Therapy Clinical Training Manual.” She has written chapters in several books concerning music therapy, behavior analysis and physical rehabilitation. Her recent international presentations have included conferences in Korea and Finland.

Boyle received her doctorate in Special Education Research from Teachers College, Columbia University and she received a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Portland in Portland, Ore.

She will continue to act as a consultant for the Graduate Music Therapy Program, which she designed and developed.