Pettitts prepare to leave Lakeland

  • Left: Dr. and Mrs. Pettitt pose in Verhulst. (Michelle Fromm)
  • (From left to right) Jeremy Green, Dr. Pettitt, Matt Troyer and Kim DeJong enjoy a break while on a band trip. Left: Dr. and Mrs. Pettitt pose in Verhulst. (Courtesy of Dr. Pettitt)

Michelle Fromm, Managing Editor
March 28, 2013

Dr. Russell Pettitt, assistant professor of music and director of bands, and his wife, Megan Pettitt, music camp registrar and adjunct instructor of music, will be leaving their positions at Lakeland at the end of May this year to go to Texas.

The Pettitts have taught at Lakeland for four years and will be missed by their students.

“It’s been a good three years,” said Matthew Troyer, a junior majoring in trumpet performance, who has studied under the Pettitts since he was a freshman at Lakeland.

Troyer went on to describe their departure as “bittersweet,” echoing the thoughts of many music students who are aware that although their well-liked mentors will be leaving, they know that the Pettitts have some great opportunities waiting for them in Texas.

“I have accepted a position as director of bands at Texas Woman’s University,” said Dr. Pettitt.

Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Denton, Texas, is a state school that has been coeducational since 1972. Dr. Pettitt explained that although the 15,000-student school’s specialties have always been healthcare and education, it is also home to about 240 music majors and ten full-time music faculty members.

Dr. Pettitt’s role at TWU will include teaching Wind Symphony, Pep Band, Applied Low Brass, and Conducting.

“I’m excited about it,” said Dr. Pettitt.

As for Mrs. Pettitt, she is certified to teach music in Texas public schools, and according to her husband “she does have the opportunity to do some adjunct teaching at TWU.”

The Pettitts say that they are just waiting to see what will happen in regards to Mrs. Pettitt’s future employment in Texas.

TWU is only about 45 minutes away from Dr. Pettitt’s hometown, so he is looking forward to being close to his family members that live nearby.

As of right now, neither of the positions the Pettitts are leaving behind have been filled for next year.

Dr. Arthur Johnson, division chair of creative arts, said, “We’re conducting a search right now.”

The job openings have been announced, and at least six different faculty and staff will be involved with the hiring decision.

Whoever takes these positions will have a big role to fill.

“We’ve had a lot of successes here,” said Dr. Pettitt. “When I got here the band was very small. There was no Pep Band. There was no Jazz Ensemble.”

Dr. Pettitt had a set of goals for the music department when he came to Lakeland.

Dr. Pettitt said, “The goals included making Concert Band successful and for college students only, and creating Pep Band, and creating Jazz Ensemble. We’ve done all of those things. Concert Band [now the largest class on campus] is continuing to grow and will be bigger next year. And we’ve been excited to perform Pep gigs for lots of sporting events… The Jazz Ensemble performs on and off campus all the time, and not only do we do that, but we have a Jazz Combo that performs now.”

“I’m very proud to leave a vibrant, successful, comprehensive band program at Lakeland College,” said Dr. Pettitt.

Mrs. Pettitt has also seen successes in her time as music camp registrar.

The weeklong summer music camp is held annually for students in middle school through high school, and the summer of 2012 saw 354 students in attendance, a record in the 56 years that the program has been going on.

The situation is just as bittersweet for the couple as it is for their students.

“I’ve liked being here,” said Mrs. Pettitt. “The students rocked completely.”

“And it’s a pleasure to have served music majors and a large chunk of non-music majors during my time here,” said Dr. Pettitt.

When asked whether he knew about his students planning any going-away agendas, Dr. Pettitt responded, “I’m going to plead ignorance on that.”

Dr. Pettitt says he is looking forward to joining the Denton area’s “vibrant arts community” and being close to family, but he will miss his family here at Lakeland.

 

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