UCMB Staff Additions

Shiv Patel

Special Announcements from Dr. Mills!

For years we have been requesting another full-time staff member for the UCMB. With 300+ members in the marching band and pep bands for men’s hockey, and men’s and women’s basketball. The need has been obvious. This summer we were authorized to create the position of UCMB Assistant Director and Program Coordinator. We have been requesting an additional full-time person for several years. Having another full-time professional at the assistant director level will be a tremendous resource for the UCMB. While the position is a “special payroll” and not an official “faculty line”, it is an excellent opportunity for someone to find initial employment in the small world of college bands and to give our bands the attention and instruction they need. So, where can we find someone who has the ability, skills, enthusiasm, and experience to teach marching, rehearse music, organize and plan events and activities, work within our complex organization of staff, student, and alumni, and fit in immediately?

The answer was someone who has been doing those things for us already and the situation was just right for our candidate to accept the job. I am pleased to announce that the new UCMB Assistant Director and Program Coordinator will be Jessica Von Villas! Jess brings everything we need to our position!  She was a 4-year member and drum major of the UCMB. During that time she organized many aspects of our band’s operations including spearheading two bowl trips and other events. She taught school in NC for two years, she was our graduate assistant director for two years, obtaining her Master of Music–Conducting degree. As Grad Assistant she continued to refine and organize our events (Band Day, Make Your Own Band Day, 1st Chair Band Festival, etc…). No one knows more or has done more about the running of the UCMB and our pep bands than Jess. In addition to that, Jess brings her experience as a member of DCI Champion, The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps. Those marching, playing, and instructional skills will translate to immediate effectiveness. Her energy level, her “get it done now” attitude, and her faithful dedication makes her the right person for the job and will “kick up” the level of every part of our program.

Another needed staff position is the UCMB Administrative Assistant. Finding the right person who could take a part-time position and make our office work all the time is a real challenge. It needs to be someone who could stay with that job for quite some time. It had to be a person who knows and loves the UCMB, have an understanding of our complex operation, be able and willing to assist enthusiastically with our students in the many ways they contribute the band, tolerate the hectic nature of our band office, and be self-directed about initiating and carrying out the work of the band.

Again, we were lucky to find someone close to home! Emily Collins will be the friendly face in the band office! Emily had been teaching middle school band in Massachusetts and decided to reduce her commute and time commitment and come home to the UCMB! She was in the UCMB for 5 years, a TBS Member and President, clarinet Section Leader, and our 2003 Band Captain. She taught music in New London then returned as our graduate assistant (2007-2009). Emily has stayed close to the UCMB in the years since and even served as President of the UCMB Alumni Band. Emily is going to be that wonderful, helpful person in the UCMB office that you love to see and loves to see you! She’s going to make an incredible difference for us!

These incredible additions to our staff represent a momentous upgrade for the UCMB. The size of our staff is now more representative of that of the nation’s better university bands. But, for now we celebrate our good fortune and look forward to the contributions our new staff members will bring!


Dr. David Mills
UConn Bands
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269-1012