College of Arts and Media dean candidate Michael Thrasher discusses recruitment, diversity

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Administration Ray Christie (left) talks to College of the Arts and Media dean candidate Michael Thrasher (right) in the Staples Family Concert Hall in the Music Building on Monday, Nov. 29.

Michael Thrasher discussed diversity and recruitment during the first forum in the ongoing search for Central Michigan University's next Dean of the College of the Arts and Media.

Thrasher addressed students and faculty Nov. 29 in the Staples Family Concert Hall in the Music Building during the first of four candidate forums

He currently serves as the associate dean for academic affairs and director of graduate studies in the College of Music at Florida State University. He has held these positions since 2016. Additionally, Thrasher has served as the interim dean for the College of Music at FSU and has held director positions for the School of Performing Arts at the University of Texas at Tyler and the Department of Music at North Dakota State University. 

"I appreciate your courtesy and the invitation for allowing me to be here with you all today," Thrasher said. "It's a real privilege for me to be here in person and to get to know (CMU) better."

While discussing challenges CAM faces, Thrasher talked about how COVID-19 has affected students for the past two years.

"Certainly we've seen the impact for instruction, how we deliver information and how we interact with students," he said. "Everyone is talking about the way students and faculty's mental health has been impacted. The isolation has been harmful."

Thrasher believes recruitment season never ends and is a way of live for the arts. He shared some strategies he's done in the past that he hopes to continue at CMU if he is chosen to be dean.

"Visiting high schools, going to college fairs, going to state conferences to distribute information, communicating directly with prospective students and parents and hosting open house events on campus that brought students and parents there to spend the day to see what it's like to be a student," Thrasher said. "I find it to be exhilarating work."

While talking about diversity, Thrasher noted that any kind of organization benefits from having diverse perspectives and points of view. He said a commitment to diversity, equity and  inclusion needs to be activated on a day to day basis. 

"If all we have are diversity committees, but then in the dark corners of the classrooms, we have all kinds of prejudice, bias and bullying happening, I think people see through that, and it doesn't achieve what we want to achieve."

Candidates Jefferson Campbell, Kelly Burke and Jeff Ward will speak at forums throughout the week. 

The forums can also be viewed virtually through the Office of the Provost website. Students will have the opportunity to meet the candidates after their forums in Moore Hall or virtually through the Office of the Provost website.