Richard Holly is the Dean of the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts, having served in this capacity since 2008. Prior to this appointment, Dean Holly served as Associate Dean of the College and has been a Professor of Percussion at Northern Illinois University since 1983.
Dean Holly is active in numerous arts ventures. He is a founding board member of the DeKalb Area Arts Council and is active with the Rockford Arts Council. He is co-chair of the Higher Education Board for Arts Alliance Illinois and the Panel Lead for the Arts in Education Panel of Chicago Public Schools. He collaborates with the Illinois State Superintendent of Schools on numerous arts initiatives and frequently consults for arts organizations and school system arts programs.
As a percussionist, Rich Holly remains active as a solo performer and clinician, and has appeared over 300 times at schools, colleges, universities, conventions and festivals throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, South America and Asia. Rich received his formal training at the State University of New York at Potsdam and East Carolina University.
His principal teachers were Henry Gates, Howie Mann, James Petercsak, and Harold Jones. Rich studied Brazilian percussion with Manoel Monteiro, Afro-Cuban drumming with Frank Malabe, and West African drumming with Abraham Adzenyah and Famoudou Konate. Rich was a founding member of the Abraxas Percussion Group, and has performed with the Long Island Holiday Festival Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of New York, and the North Carolina Symphony. For 11 seasons Rich was Timpanist of the Illinois Chamber Symphony.
As a drumset artist, Rich has appeared with Allen Vizzutti, John Fedchock, Ethel Merman, Red Skelton, Bob McGrath and Sesame Street and many others. From 1984 to 1999 Rich played drumset and percussion with Inner City recording artists Rhythmic Union.
Rich's articles have appeared in almost every major music journal, and from 1986 to 2002 he was the Associate Editor for Percussive Notes magazine. His published percussion compositions are sold around the world, and his popular book, "Majoring in Music: All the Stuff You Need to Know," is available from booksellers world-wide. Active in the Percussive Arts Society, Rich served as the President of PAS in 2005 and 2006 and currently serves on the Council of Past Presidents and the Board of Advisors. His guest appearances are sponsored in part by Yamaha Music Corporation of America, Sabian Cymbals, Ltd., Innovative Percussion sticks and mallets, and Latin Percussion (LP Music).