Steven Moore: On Elevating Student Voice, Helping Them Build Themselves

Frost School of Music's Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Steven Moore, a leader who advocates for and elevates the students’ voice, was awarded the William R. Butler Award for Administrative Excellence for making critical contributions to completing Student Government initiatives.

Steven Moore has always been the kind of educator that students love. Kind, understanding, and passionate about training the next generation of critical thinkers who will continue this journey in academia and beyond.

As a high school teacher in Lexington, Kentucky, one year, he was named the "Outstanding High School Teacher" by the Kentucky Department of Education. "At the time, I thought that really meant I was the best teacher in the state," says Moore with a chuckle. "But I now realize that award honors all teachers (or administrators) who serve our students and make it a great place for them." 

Frost alumni, Safia Zaman '23 and Louisa Khan '23, who represented the Undergrad Student Government in the 2022-2023 academic year, recently nominated Moore for the William R. Butler Award for Administrative Excellence for his extraordinary involvement in Student Government initiatives.

"I respect Safia Zaman and Louisa Khan so much, and I look forward to seeing what they are going to contribute to this world," he says. "The way these young women present, it's really impressive. They speak well, and they're highly accomplished. Both of them received a Bachelor of Music in Professional Studies, which I developed with my Frost colleagues." 

As he explains, the major has been designed for unique individuals who are creating their own curricular path—truly building themselves. Moore worked with Zaman and Khan individually to create a unique curriculum. And as he says, "They have literally brought down the house!"

"I just love when I see students like Safia and Louisa being great leaders in student government, carving out a little bit of their university life to serve the entire university, which really comes back to benefiting Frost," he says. "I came away uplifted from the experience of seeing them in action. When people make fun of Gen Zs, I shake my head. As a Boomer, I think we will be in good shape. These kids are smart, disciplined, and highly empathetic." 

Moore recalls that in 2020, amid a worldwide pandemic, when nobody knew how they would do "school," with 25% of students not planning to be on campus, he sent out a call to the student body. He asked them if anyone was interested in helping him get a mentorship program started. 

Many people joined, and Zaman volunteered to run it. "It was incredible! We immediately had 125 participants," recalls Moore, who saw a movement happening at the Frost campus. "It helped us get through this strange period, and we were one of the few schools meeting on and off campus simultaneously. These students felt connected, and those who came in 2020 are still with us and will graduate next year."

That program developed into what's now called the Frost Ambassadors. The students involved help bring students on board, providing tours and encouraging them to get involved in student campus life. University of Miami's Provost, Jeffrey L. Duerk, announced in a recent meeting that the university is using the Frost Goal Mentorship Program as a model going into the future. 

"Safia started that," adds Moore, bursting with fatherly pride. "She and Louisa are really special to me for those reasons." 

Moore was Zaman and Khan's obvious choice when choosing a nominee for the award. "Throughout my time in Student Government, Dean Moore has lent a hand in every project and initiative I dreamed of achieving," says Khan. "Besides this support, he advocates heavily for Student Government projects to other administrators and takes all SG endeavors seriously." 

According to Khan, as an administrator, Moore constantly went above and beyond supporting student initiatives for the betterment of the Frost campus. She feels that the projects she submitted for approval would not have come to fruition without him. 

For instance, he advocated fiercely to ensure the practice rooms in the Lakeside Village Complex were rightfully available to students rather than used as storage space. "Without his support, these practice rooms might have remained a pseudo storage unit," explains Khan. "Overall, Dean Moore is an example of administrative excellence. Beyond his commitment to Student Government, it is obvious that all he does is with the student's best interest at heart."   

As for Moore, being a champion for the students drives him daily. And sometimes that comes in many different ways—academics, music, emotional well-being, curriculum, general organization, and sometimes even tough love. 

"With 14 different undergraduate degrees, 500 undergrads, and over 50 ensembles, so many things go on in this vast school. And so, there's got to be a lighthouse that you navigate by and doesn't change positions. And that is, 'We're here to serve students.' We do what's best for them individually and collectively, which drives every decision. We help students so that they can build themselves. It's not a marketing slogan; it's a reality so they can earn a living and live a life worth living."