The Performing Arts Administration graduate program recognized and celebrated 20 new graduates who earned a Master of Arts in Performing Arts Administration degree on May 18, 2021. This program-level graduation celebration took place virtually via Zoom and was joined by the graduates’ friends and families from around the world. PAA faculty members also attended and shared their well wishes with the graduates.
The Distinguished Graduates in Performing Arts Administration award was given to Karolina Judd and Deja Robinson in recognition of their outstanding academic achievements and service to the PAA community.
Joseph Morrissey (‘12), PAA alumnus and Director of Dance at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, delivered the graduation address. Below are excerpts from his speech:
“Here are some takeaways from my experience: First, you are about to enter the job market possessing a degree with a brand that is synonymous with excellence. It is important to know that your first job post-graduation may not be the ultimate job or opportunity you were hoping for or expecting to land -- and that’s OK. As a new graduate, you will learn what to do and, sometimes, what not to do – and it’s the combination of these dos and don'ts that will enable you to create your own authentic leadership style, hopefully one filled with positivity, excellence, laughter, and service to the performing arts.
Second, it is important that you seek mentorship. Your mentors do not need to be CEOs or presidents of major arts institutions, but rather leaders you can look up to, leaders who’ve made an impact on the arts, leaders you can trust. As graduates of this special program, we are tasked with the responsibility to continually raise the bar, no matter what we’re doing, where we are, and who or what may be standing in our way. That’s not always an easy task, which is why you need guidance from people who may be many -- or just a few -- steps ahead of you in their own leadership journeys.
Finally, never forget what brought you to this program in the first place, whether it was your artistic practice or just sheer love of the performing arts. Sometimes taking a step back -- like I did while taking ballet classes at STEPS -- will remind you that you are not only an administrator, but rather someone who is driven by a deep passion that inspired you to make this incredible and worthwhile investment that will only increase in value over time. You are not lesser than the actor, the singer or the dancer, rather you have acquired an incredible skill-set -- or what I like to call “secret-weapons” -- in arts administration that will greatly contribute to the performing arts and their continued impact on people’s lives.
...This degree reminds me that one can fuse both artistic and administrative passions to build community and make great performances come alive. So that being said, I extend my most sincere congratulations to you, class of 2021. You should be very proud as you are about to graduate from the best performing arts administration program in the world. I look forward to hearing about where you land.”
Morrissey recognized that he would need a different skill set than the typical dancer. His PAA degree gave him a broad perspective of both dance and business.