Alumnus Appointed Top Academic Post

MSU College of Music saxophone alum Dr. Kelland Thomas named dean of Stevens Institute of Technology College of Arts and Letters.

Kelland Thomas was named dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

An alum of the MSU College of Music will apply his unique background and education in saxophone performance, music theory, and computer technology to a leadership post at a private research university in Hoboken, N.J., beginning June 1, 2016.

Kelland Thomas was named dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the Stevens Institute of Technology. The musician, artist, researcher, and educator holds five college degrees—including a double major in saxophone performance and the honors college from MSU in 1994.

“CAL is already an exceptional place where the arts, humanities, and social sciences are infused with technological thinking and doing, and I look forward to advancing that vision,” Thomas said of his decision to join Stevens. He then reflected on how his experience at MSU helped prepare him for advanced studies and his career path.

“I got a world-class musical education as a performer and scholar of music through the MSU College of Music,” Thomas said. “Being a student in the MSU Honors College also allowed me to broaden my intellectual horizons and develop new passions. MSU offered me both musical depth and disciplinary breadth, and I think this combination laid the foundation for a career as an interdisciplinary educator, researcher, and administrator.”

Founded in 1870, the Stevens Institute of Technology established the College of Arts and Letters in 2007 to focus on humanities and liberal arts education and research through the lens of science and technology. Thomas will lead efforts to study and integrate humanities and technology through innovative projects and education that draw on various disciplines, including music, computing, communication, and design.

Professor of Saxophone Joe Lulloff was one of Thomas' main teachers at MSU, and said that Thomas' exemplary work set a high standard for students and faculty alike. He added that Thomas exhibited an intuitive musical depth and understanding that was extremely unique and at a level well beyond the typical college undergraduate or graduate student.

“Kelland inspired many to reach beyond their goals, and his curiosity to discover new directions, and connections in his music was always growing,” Lulloff says. “He is truly a very special artist and leader in our field and will have a most positive influence on many future musicians, as well as all who have the fortune to collaborate with him.”

An active saxophone performer, Thomas’ research interests include computational creativity, artificial intelligence, creative coding, and generative music composition. He currently serves as associate director of the University of Arizona’s School of Information and director of the university’s Creative Computing Lab. He also previously served as the as interim director of the university’s School of Information: Science, Technology, and Arts (SISTA) from 2014-2015.

“It was clear from the outset that Kelland Thomas is a compelling musician whose intellect can make a difference for others irrespective of the disciplinary path chosen,” says James Forger, dean of the MSU College of Music. “Stevens Institute of Technology is fortunate to have gained his leadership, and those who know him will cheer on his work as he explores new frontiers and bridges between artistic and scientific worlds.”

Source: This article was repurposed from a March 16, 2016 article on the Stevens Institute of Technology website. 

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