Dr. Marilynn J. Smiley has cultivated an abiding passion for music and the performing arts from a formative age. Now retired, she spent her career in academia, having excelled as a faculty member in the music department at the State University of New York at Oswego from 1961 to 2014. In 1974, Dr. Smiley was appointed as a distinguished teaching professor until attaining emerita status in 2014. During this time, she also served as the chairperson of the music department from 1976 to 1981. Over the course of her career, she has specialized in various periods in music history, particularly ancient Greek music history and literature, the classical works of Beethoven, music from the Baroque and Renaissance eras, American music history, medieval music and women in music, among other areas.
Currently, Dr. Smiley serves as the president of the Oswego branch of the American Association of University Women. Involved with the association since 1984, she has also served as a former co-president of the Oswego branch, a branch council representative and coordinator, an area interest representative for the New York division, a diversity director and chairperson, and a historian. Additionally, Dr. Smiley maintains membership with the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music. Civically involved, she has been president of the board of directors of the Oswego Opera Theater since 2009, having also served on its board of directors since 1978.
Before embarking on her professional career, Dr. Smiley pursued formal education, having earned a Bachelor of Science from Ball State University in 1954. She went on to commence her career in Logansport, Indiana, as a public school music teacher between 1954 and 1961. During this time, she continued her education, receiving a Master of Music in musicology from Northwestern University in 1958 and a certification from Ecoles d’Art Americaines in Fontainebleau, France, in 1959. She concluded her academic endeavors with a Doctor of Philosophy in musicology from the University of Illinois in 1970.
Impressively, Dr. Smiley was a co-editor of “Remarkable Women in New York State History” through History Press in 2013 and has contributed many articles to professional journals on the topics of Renaissance and American music. For her achievements, she was honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1973.