Jeffry M. Kaatz

1957 - 

Jeffry Kaatz, cellist, is enjoying a remarkable career as a musician and as an administrator in higher education. He is presently Director of Development for the School of Business Administration at the University of California, Riverside, a position he has held since 2011. Prior to this he served as Vice-President for Advancement at La Sierra University from 2001 to 2011 and as professor of music from 1988 to 2011 serving as chair of the music department at LSU for ten years.

Jeffry (Jeff) was born in Bellflower, California, the second of three sons of James M. and Averille E. Smouse Kaatz, both educators.  He attended San Diego Academy and following graduation in 1975, enrolled at Loma Linda University, La Sierra campus, now La Sierra University, where he completed an undergraduate degree in 1981.  He later talked about the financial challenge he faced as he entered college and how a teacher’s interest and initiative provided an important role in his education:  

The summer before entering college I worked every day in a factory sawing aluminum to make door and window frames. It was hard work and somewhat dangerous because of the heavy equipment. The end of my first year of college majoring in music I was planning to go back to the same factory job, a job I needed in order to afford my second year. However, a professor who recognized I had some musical talent told me that I really should spend my summer practicing six to eight hours. I told her I’d love to do that, but had no other alternative to pay for tuition the following year.


Later that week the professor approached me again, this time to let me know that she had spoken with an alumnus who wanted to make a difference for a worthy student. After hearing of my situation, the alum offered to provide a scholarship equal to what I would have made working that summer. The only requirement from me was that I had to sign a pledge to practice six to eight hours a day. That summer I spent a great deal of time practicing. The following year I was able to enter and win a competition which later helped me get into an excellent graduate school.

At LLU, he graduated with honors and was chosen Outstanding Senior of the Year for the College of Arts and Sciences. Kaatz then completed an M.Mus. and D.M.A. in cello performance at the University of Southern California in 1984 and 1989, respectively. While at USC, he studied with renowned teacher Eleonore Schoenfeld, received the Outstanding Chamber Music Performance Award, and was named the Outstanding Doctoral Graduate of the Year in the string department.

Before his appointment as music chair at LLU, he taught cello as an adjunct teacher at both Redlands University and LLU. Once appointed as music chair at the latter, he made moves to strengthen and improve the image of the department by hiring high profile musicians such as Lyndon Johnston Taylor, Kimo Smith, Barbara Favorito, and others that would attract talented students and by achieving accreditation for the department with the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).


With NASM accreditation in mind, he reviewed and revised the curriculum and upgraded the music library, finding funding to accomplish the latter, and in the summer of 1996, after a comprehensive self-study and an on-site visit by NASM, the department achieved full accreditation. It was a gratifying moment for Kaatz and his faculty.

By the middle of the decade, his spirited leadership of the department and effectiveness when given other campus assignments had been noticed by administration. Beginning in 1996, he also became director of University Studies and Assistant Vice-President for Academic Administration, overseeing the development of highly regarded general studies and honors programs. In 1999, he stepped aside as music chair to devote more time to this new assignment. 

Two years later Kaatz became vice-president for Advancement at LSU. Under his direction his advancement team was awarded the Counsel for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) 2008 Wealth Engine Award for Educational Fundraising. Even with increased administrative responsibilities, he was still active as a cellist and continued to perform in the Taylor String Quartet, a resident ensemble in the music department.

Kaatz has been principal cellist and soloist with both the Redlands Symphony and Riverside County Philharmonic orchestras and is still active as a soloist and in playing chamber music. He is also a volunteer in the community, serving on a number of boards for non-profit organizations, including serving as president of the board of directors for the Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra and as a director on the Mission Inn Foundation board. His recreational pursuits include golfing, jogging, mountain climbing, and watching basketball games.

Kaatz married Karen A. Becker in June 1982.  They live in Loma Linda, California, and have three adult children, Brian, Jordan, and Katie.


Sources: Interview, September 2013; Biography, LSU website; 2008; LinkedIn, 2013; Biography, School of Business Administration Alumni Newsletter, Winter 2012, 3; Dan Shultz, “Music at La Sierra University,” Summer/Autumn 2005 IAMA Notes, 8-16; California Birth and Marriage Records,; personal knowledge.