Oakland University unveils School of Music, Theatre and Dance

The Oakland University Board of Trustees voted at its August formal meeting to approve the creation of a School of Music, Theatre and Dance. This move follows a consistent expansion and transformation of programs offered by the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance over the past 32 years.
“We developed the School of Music, Theatre and Dance to be housed within the College of Arts and Sciences and led by Distinguished Professor of Music Education Jackie Wiggins, who will initiate the roles of Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and Director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance on an interim basis until a permanent associate dean can be hired,” said James P. Lentini, D.M.A., senior vice president for Academic Affairs, provost and professor of Music. “In addition, Dr. Wiggins will have an associate director and each of the departments will be headed by a department chair.”
“Growing Music, Theatre and Dance from a department into a school should help strengthen our position in the state and regionally, and also enhance our ability to continue recruiting some of the most talented students in all three disciplines,” added Kevin J. Corcoran, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It should help increase our visibility so that we may serve our region better and open the door to more collaborative learning opportunities and important philanthropic opportunities.”
“We are very thankful for the Board’s recognition that the creation of this school was warranted by our blossoming programs and was the next logical step in our development,” said Jackie Wiggins, Ed.D., associate dean and director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.
Oakland University was founded in 1957 as a liberal arts college and a part of Michigan State University. The Music Department was established in 1959 and Varner Hall opened in 1970 as the university’s home of performing arts education.
Theatre and Dance began as extra-curricular programs at Oakland University. Then, in 1982, the theatre and dance programs joined the existing music department, forming a Department of Music, Theatre and Dance.
Oakland’s performing arts programs earned accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music, National Association of Schools of Theatre and National Association of Schools of Dance in 2001.
The department has flourished since that time, leading up to this week’s announcement of the formation of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.
There are currently 172 faculty and staff members serving 3,400 Oakland University students with about 230 music majors, 110 theatre majors and 60 dance majors. Oakland’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance offers 23 degree programs – bachelor’s through doctoral – six minors and six professional certificate programs. A bachelor’s degree in Music Technology and Industry is also currently under review and the school maintains an active research center, the Center for Applied Research in Musical Understanding.
The School of Music, Theatre and Dance provides the campus and surrounding community with more than 200 performances and events each year. Its Music Preparatory Division teaches more than 300 community members each year, ranging from pre-schoolers through senior citizens.
Artists-in-residence affiliated with the Oakland University School of Music, Theatre and Dance include world-renowned jazz musician Regina Carter, the Oakland Symphony Orchestra and dance ensembles Eisenhower Dance and Take Root.
Professional partners of the school include the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, Meadow Brook Theatre Ensemble, Oakland Youth Orchestras, the Oakland University Cooperative Orchestral Library and Synergy on Stage.
The school also supports major study abroad programs, including Traditional Music and Dance Study in Ghana, participation in the Hydrama Theatre Festival in Greece and Dance Study in Germany.
Oakland is one of the few universities in the U.S. to have a Brass Band, which has achieved national and international recognition. It also has one of the few undergraduate musical theatre programs to take students to New York to connect with and perform for agents and producers, and to get advice from working actors.
In addition, Music, Theatre and Dance alumni have been highly successful in working in performing arts careers, including a voice alumna who recently made her debut at the esteemed La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy.
Learn more about the School of Music, Theatre and Dance by visiting the website.

The School of Music, Theatre and Dance provides pre-professional, professional, liberal arts, and general education in the performing arts through artistically-grounded academic programs and diverse performance opportunities.

Our work is kinetic, alive, visceral––occurring collaboratively among learners and teachers, realizing learner potential, cultivating unique artistic voice––in artistically rigorous, authentic, interactive environments.