James Forger Dean of the College of Music and Professor of Saxophone


  • Woodwinds

105 Music Building
East Lansing, MI 48824

(517) 355-4583


James Forger is Dean of the College of Music at Michigan State University. After earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan, he began his career at East Carolina University as assistant professor of saxophone. He joined the MSU faculty in 1979 and became director of the School of Music (now College) in 1990. During his tenure, the college has grown in quality and size, adding programs in jazz studies, ethnomusicology, collaborative piano, music theory pedagogy, piano pedagogy, early childhood music, and a performance diploma. The outreach dimension of the college has expanded with the founding of Community Music Schools in East Lansing and Detroit that serve more than 2,500 adults and children weekly. In 2007 he led the transition of the School of Music, previously one of nine academic units within the College of Arts and Letters, to the independent College of Music; it became MSU's 16th college. In 2015 the University recognized him with the Robert F. Banks Award for Institutional Leadership.

Forger has maintained an active role as a saxophone performer appearing with orchestras such as Grand Rapids Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic, and the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra. A leader in the commissioning and performance of new works for the saxophone, he has commissioned works by Milton Babbitt, John Anthony Lennon, David Liptak, Donald Martino, Charles Ruggiero, and Morton Subotnick. He is an active accreditation visitor, having served two terms as member and chairperson of the National Association of Schools of Music Commission on Non-Degree-Granting Accreditation. In 2013, he was elected to the NASM Commission on Accreditation.