A life of academic curiosity that was nurtured at North Central College continues for Charlotte Roederer '65. A math and music major as an undergraduate, Roederer has shifted from a law career back to research she started more than 30 years ago after earning a doctorate in music history from Yale University. "I have the opportunity to 'front burner' the research I started as an academic and kept warm all these years," she says.
Roederer is investigating whether a more purely mathematical approach might aid in understanding the Western religious chant notations that date back to the early Middle Ages. "These look something like Gregg shorthand," she says. "These nuemes are believed to have supported the memorized choral chants used in worship." Nuemes are the signs used in notation of music during the Middle Ages.
The study of these notations continues to be fascinating to music historians like Roederer because the manuscripts were so carefully written and preserved and come from areas of high learning and culture in the Middle Ages.
After earning her doctorate, Roederer's career focused on music, math and history while she was teaching and researching at Bryn Mawr College and the State University of New York-Buffalo. Sponsored by the music department, she decided to take advantage of free tuition at the university's law school and found that studying law suited her logical thinking. "I loved complex regulations and how things fit together—the intellectual side of the law," she says. The start of her career in the 1980s was timed perfectly with banking deregulation, which opened the door for new products like money market funds. She retired earlier this year from M&T Bank in Buffalo, where she was associate general counsel. Roederer currently works in Pittsburgh and continues her 30-year career as a professional organist.
At North Central, Roederer represented the family's fourth generation. Her father Robert Roederer '40, her grandfather Irvin Roederer '15 and great-grandfather George Roederer, Class of 1880, were all in the ministry. Among her favorite memories is taking the unusual step (at the time) of studying abroad. She went with a college consortium group to Vienna, Austria, and traveled on the Queen Elizabeth II to reach Europe. "Dr. Charles Hower, the registrar at the time, made it possible for me to spend the year abroad," she says.
She also names Mary Anice Seybold, then chair of mathematics, Paul Warren Allen, director of the Concert Choir, and Margery Stomne Selden, music historian, as her inspirations for a life of inquiry and intellectual pursuit. n