This Week at SOTA

NKU School of the Arts - July 31, 2020

Faculty News

Congratulations to Tracey Bonner (Theatre & Dance Program, Dance), who was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure! Bonner is the Dance Area Coordinator in the Theatre and Dance program that is on full display in the Fall semester Emerging Choreographers’ Showcase and Spring semester Dance concerts. Be on the lookout for virtual versions of these events this year as our stellar dance program is brought straight to you! Thank you, Tracey Bonner, for your dedication to our students and productions!


William Brian Hogg (Music Program, Jazz) will be taking his first sabbatical Fall semester. He will be researching and cataloging over a thousand old 78rpm records that were donated to the Jazz Studies Area. Hogg notes that “the records do not include any information that normally accompanies modern records” and that “In more modern times liner notes, personnel lists, and commentary accompany recordings on the subject matter, lyrics and other important data are included.” It is hoped that he will be able to create an accessible catalog of this music for our students, current and future, and gain insight into whether the development of jazz correlated to cultural norms at the time.

Happy Retirement, Scott Lang

After 22 years of service, Scott Lang (Music Program, Percussion Area Coordinator), is retiring. While difficult to select just a few of Scott’s many professional accomplishments over the years, below are some highlights:


  • Taught Applied Percussion, Percussion Methods, Music of World Cultures, History of Rock and Roll, Survey of African American Music, and Recital Review at NKU
  • Directed the NKU Percussion Ensemble
  • Founded and directed the NKU Steel Band
  • Serves as Principal Timpanist/Percussionist with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra
  • Performed 37 Broadway tours including the following: Wicked, West Side Story, Evita, The Producers, Shrek, Dreamgirls, 42nd Street, Spamalot, Little Mermaid, Hairspray
  • Recorded 21 albums with Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras
  • Performed with the following musicians: Tony Bennett, Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Frampton, James Galway, Dizzy Gillespie, Branford Marsalis, Luciano Pavarotti, Doc Severinsen, and many more
  • Performed over 3,000 performances in North America including Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center


On behalf of the Music Program and SOTA, thank you to Scott for his countless contributions and steadfast dedication to NKU Music since joining the faculty in 1997. His constant support and invaluable expertise have enabled music students throughout the years to pursue professional careers as performers, educators, and arts administrators throughout the nation.


We wish you all the best as you take this next step in your life and career.

Welcome Lou Setzer

Please welcome Louis Setzer, D.M.A. as our new Lecturer in Low Brass. Lou Setzer comes to us from Marian University, where he taught Low Brass Applied Lessons, Aural Skills, and Music Theory. Additionally, he directed the Pep Band and served on staff for the concert and marching bands.


  • Published by Cherry Classic Music: Annotated Bibliography of Solo Works for Trombone and Harp, Al Circo, Four Songs from Dichterliebe (coming this fall)
  • Performed as a soloist on the guest artist recital series at the International Trombone Festival (’19) and the American Trombone Workshop (’19 and ’20)
  • Released duo CD for Trombone and Harp with NKU’s own Joseph Rebman in February 2020 - JOLO Duo: The Bounds of Spring
  • Co-hosted the 1st and 2nd Annual Brass Day at Marian University

Michael Culligan Named Interim Percussion Area Coordinator

Michael Culligan, M.M., is stepping into the role of Percussion Area Coordinator for this academic year after previously serving on faculty at NKU as a part-time Percussion instructor.


  • Associate Principal Percussionist, Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras
  • 2010-2015: Regularly performed with Pittsburgh Symphony, including several tours plus performances at Carnegie Hall, the BBC Proms, and the Berlin Philharmonie
  • Previously appointed 2nd percussion in West Virginia Symphony and Canton Symphony
  • Studied with renowned players and pedagogues: Alan Abel, Chris Deviney, Angie Nelson, Chris Allen, Jeremy Branson, Andy Reamer, Ed Stephen

Visual Communication Design Ranked #1

Animation Career Review has released its sixth annual rankings for graphic design. More than 700 schools across the US with graphic design programs were reviewed, and Northern Kentucky University’s School of the Arts Visual Communication Design (VCD) program was ranked #1 in Kentucky.


“Students in (NKU’s) visual communication design programs have access to labs and studio spaces with the latest versions of industry-standard software, including high-quality input and output devices,” stated Animation Career Review. “A letterpress facility honors historical processes where students can work out ideas for artist bookmaking, design and printmaking.”


The visual communication design tracks at NKU are designed to develop each student as a creative, visual communicator. The program holds a variety of innovative experiences to support student’s strengths and interests while developing their style and career goals.


Full Story

Alumni Spotlight: Oen Michael Hammonds

Oen Michael Hammonds (BFA Graphic Design, 1999), Design Principal, Employee Experience Design at IBM, was recently selected to be one of the jurors in Fast Company’s international 2020 Innovation by Design Awards.


Hammonds travels the globe as a design advocate and onboarding leader within IBM’s enormous design and engineering teams. In 2015, as part of Cincinnati Design Week, he conducted an in-class design workshop and spoke at NKU about his work in radical collaboration, user-centered empathy, and the legacy of IBM’s innovation-based culture that he has been integral in evolving.

Alumni Spotlight: Roderick Justice

Roderick Justice (BFA Musical Theatre, 2007) is a member of The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and has been producing theatre for nearly two decades. He’s an award-winning choreographer, actor, director, costume designer, playwright, adjudicator, and mentor to hundreds of young performers. Originally hailing from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, Roderick has trained and worked in cities all over the United States, in Canada and Europe, but now proudly calls Cincinnati his home.


The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT) welcomed him in 2008 as the company’s first full-time Associate Artistic Director. He became the Program Director of The STAR Program, the highly-acclaimed musical theatre training program for young performers ages 9 to 18. Many of his STAR alums have gone on to great success on Broadway, TV, and film.


Roderick’s tenure has been driven by his passion for live theatre-for-youth, the impact the arts have on early childhood development, and harnessing the power of storytelling to change the world for the next generation. Since becoming the Producing Artistic Director of TCT in 2015, he has commissioned and produced over a dozen new musicals, plays, and world-premiere adaptations.


He often works as a free-lance guest artist, director, and choreographer for other arts organizations, including as his alma mater, Northern Kentucky University’s School of the Arts (SOTA), The School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), the award-winning Commonwealth Theatre Company, The Carnegie, and The Lincoln Amphitheater (Lincoln City, IN).


Most recently Roderick accepted the Sara Spencer Child Drama award on behalf of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati at the 2020 Southeastern Theatre Conference.

SOTA’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Starting with the very earliest cave paintings, stories, rhythms, and coordinated movements, the visual and performing arts have been integral to humanity’s understanding and exploration of our place in the world. Artists have always been, at a fundamental level, story-tellers. Through visual art, music, theatre, and dance, art can shine a light to illuminate, dissect, discuss, question, and confront society’s issues. The stories we choose to tell can celebrate and reflect society or even garner the power to transform our culture. Great works of art, music, theatre, and dance have challenged our perception of events, revealed truth, and changed the course of history. The School of the Arts at NKU is proud to be a part of this continuum as we reflect upon and rededicate our mission to transform the lives of our students and our community through the power of an arts education.


In the wake of national protests and civil unrest throughout the summer of 2020 following more blatant instances of systemic injustice across our country, the School of the Arts at NKU will continue to be intentional about the stories we tell as artists and the range of viewpoints we present as educators. In our hiring practices, guest artist invitations, production season, gallery shows, and performances, we will continue to seek broad and inclusive representation. In our classrooms and all other creative instructional spaces, we will continue to foster a safe, open, and inclusive environment that is respectful of a broad range of viewpoints, identities, and artistic approaches. Finally, we will continue to actively support development opportunities of our faculty, staff, administrators, and students as we work toward NKU’s goal of ensuring that the principles and practices of diversity, equity, and inclusion are embedded into all aspects of university life.


We understand that words alone are not sufficient to create lasting change, inclusivity for all, and safe spaces in which to create. A statement is only as good as the action that follows. Conversations have already shifted toward action and will continue in search of ways large and small that will support our vision of a safe, open, and inclusive School of the Arts.