Message from the Dean: Fall 2016

As we approach the end of 2016, my College of Music colleagues and I are pleased to share some highlights of the excellent work and the differences that our faculty, students and alumni are making. 

A key principle we are all committed to developing with greater intensity is inclusion. We are working to reflect this theme among our faculty, staff and students; to apply it through our curriculum and outreach and engagement efforts; and to extend inclusion beyond our campus. We are sharing highlights of their impactful work through the collection of articles in this e-newsletter.

Our College will continue to increase dialogue and develop a heightened sense of community that furthers the understanding of inclusion, and to embrace, respect, support and celebrate our differences. We are committed to making our College a stronger, more welcoming and more effective learning community. An important part of our efforts involves engaging faculty and students under the leadership of University Distinguished Professor Rodney Whitaker, who serves as both Special Assistant to the Dean and Chairperson for the Committee on Inclusion and Diversity.

Our focus on inclusion is evident through other programs and developments as well. The recent establishment of the Kratus Tipping Point Endowment in music education supports students who aspire to lead music education toward a more diverse and inclusive future. The upcoming New Directions in Music Education Conference, Musicking Equity: Enacting Social Justice through Music Education, will, as organizer Professor Juliet Hess says, “focus on social justice explicitly and the possibility of activism within music education.” 

Our faculty and alumni increasingly appear on international and world stages. Alumna Jenny Heemstra received the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad through her extraordinary work in India organizing social outreach programs and concert series that build cross-cultural bridges and affect the health and well-being of women and children. Alumnus Jonathan Kirkland takes a starring role as George Washington in the Chicago cast of Hamilton. Professor of Composition Ricardo Lorenz was invited to recently present at the first annual festival of the Asia Culture Center in Korea.

Important work also takes place closer to home in Michigan and in our urban areas.  The Community Music School-Detroit announced the inaugural year of the Seymour Simon Scholars—a program that identifies and supports talented high school students in music and other academic pursuits. The Vocal Arts Cabaret, an initiative developed by faculty members Mark and Sadie Rucker with vocal arts graduate students, engages young people through the musical arts and mentoring in various locations including Detroit, Flint, and Jackson. And, of course, the MSU Federal Credit Union Jazz Artist-in-Residence series provides tours, master classes, support and engagement for diverse student audiences across Michigan. 

We are grateful for the support many have provided that enables us to move our programs forward in increasingly positive and effective ways. Together with the faculty, staff and students from the College of Music, we wish you Happy Holidays and a New Year that advances mutual understanding and respect for all.


James Forger
Dean, MSU College of Music

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