Now it’s Their Turn to Lead

Doctoral and Ph.D. students rewarded with highly sought-after tenure-track slots across the U.S.

Mission accomplished. Outgoing DMA students Daniel Kirk, Andrea VanDeusen, Mark Adams and other recent College of Music graduates secured tenure track positions and other outstanding placement opportunities.
Faculty of the College of Music and other faculty members throughout Michigan State University file in to the main floor of the Jack Breslin Student Events Center for graduate students commencement in Spring of 2017.
Members of the MSU Wind Symphony conducted by Kevin Sedatole perform for graduates and attendees during the ceremony.


Crossing the stage to receive your diploma is a moment made even sweeter if there’s a coveted job — such as a tenure-track position — waiting for you.

A group of newly-minted Michigan State University College of Music graduates found themselves in that enviable position as they completed their doctoral studies on campus in May.

“Obtaining a tenure-track position is not an easy task these days,” says David Rayl, associate dean of graduate studies at Michigan State’s College of Music. “The fact that these doctoral students have earned tenure-track positions at excellent schools is a tribute to their talent, skill and experience and a tribute to all of their teachers here at MSU.”

Alyssa Cossey has accepted a job as Assistant Professor of Choral Music and Music Education at the University of Arizona after earning her Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting. Dr. Rayl was her primary teacher.

“His approach to teaching every student is different and is based on knowledge about the whole person, not just them as a musician,” Cossey says of Rayl. “I feel really fortunate to have had the teachers I had at MSU. Every class I took challenged me in different ways and allowed me to see music from new perspectives.”

As a future professor who soon will be charged with teaching undergraduates himself, Mark Adams says he is grateful for the engaged undergrads he worked with at MSU. Adams earned a Ph.D. in Music Education and has accepted a job as Assistant Professor of Music Education, Instrumental Specialist at the University of Delaware. Professor of Music Education Cynthia Taggart was his advisor.

“There have been many opportunities for me to not only teach undergraduates, but also assist and observe faculty working with undergraduates,” Adams says. “I have rarely had an experience where I didn’t walk away with new and challenging ideas to help me improve as an educator and a musician.”

Alex Smith, who will be an Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Central Missouri, agreed with Adams saying,” I was constantly pushed to improve upon my professional offerings and it is exciting that the interdisciplinary skill set I have worked to develop at MSU will be at use at UCM.”

Smith, who also completed a master’s degree in ethnomusicology during his time at MSU, also will teach a class in that subject at UCM. His primary teacher was Associate Professor of Percussion Gwen Dease

“Professor Dease and Dr. Jon Weber have been hugely inspirational in helping me develop my artistic voice as a musician,” Smith says. “They have supported my interests and helped me find ways to excel in a variety of percussion-related areas.”

A few other recent graduates securing tenure-track positions land outside of the state of Michigan.

Andrea VanDeusen earned her doctorate in music education in spring of 2017 and accepted a tenure-stream teaching position at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. Her advisor was Professor Taggart.

Daniel Kirk will be moving to Waleska, Ga., where he will be the Director of Instrumental Studies at Reinhardt University. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in wind conducting in spring of 2017. His primary teacher was Professor of Music and Director of Bands Kevin Sedatole

Justin Rito, who received his DMA in composition in spring of 2016, recently accepted a tenure-track position in Theory and Composition at Johnson State College, soon to become part of Northern Vermont University. His primary teacher was Professor of Composition Ricardo Lorenz

Mathew Forte earned his DMA in orchestral conducting in spring of 2017 and accepted a tenure-stream position at the University of Toledo. Beginning fall of 2017, Forte will be the director of orchestras and assistant professor of music. His primary teacher was Kevin Noe, professor of music, director of orchestras and graduate orchestral conducting.

Other recent doctoral student placements

In addition, two graduates listed below are taking their careers international, while others have landed teaching assignments in Potsdam, N.Y., Fayetteville, Ark. and Kalamazoo, Mich.:    

  • Michael Robinson, Lecturer of Trombone, Mahidol University in Thailand, and principal trombone for the Thailand Philharmonic. Doctor of Musical Arts in trombone, May 2016.
  • Weimar Arancibia, Music Director, Bolivian National Orchestra. Doctor of Musical Arts in orchestral conducting, December 2016.
  • Casey Grev, Assistant Professor of Saxophone, Crane School of Music, Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in saxophone, May 2017.
  • Eric Troiano, Assistant Professor of Saxophone, University of Arkansas, Doctor of Musical Arts in saxophone, December 2016.
  • Yu Lien The, Assistant Professor of Piano, Western Michigan University, Doctor of Musical Arts in piano, May 2013

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