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Manhattan School of Music’s President to Receive Honorary Doctorate 

James Gandre will receive an honorary doctor of music from Wisconsin’s Lawrence University 


Manhattan School of Music’s (MSM) president James Gandre will receive an Honorary Doctor of Music degree and deliver an address at his alma mater, Lawrence University during the school’s 2024 commencement weekend.

A Wisconsin native, Gandre graduated in vocal music performance at Lawrence University in 1981, and earned his master’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1983. In 2001, he completed a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He held leadership positions at Roosevelt University, Chicago College of Performing Arts, and at the MSM from 1985 to 2000, before returning to the MSM in 2013 to serve as its president.

In this role with MSM, Gandre has overseen $30 million in campus improvements, including renovations, the launch of an undergraduate musical theater degree, plus the forming of the online learning platform Global Conservatoire, in partnership with London’s Royal College of Music and other institutions.

As a tenor vocalist, he has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra and the London Classical Players as a soloist. He has featured in more than 175 choral performances including with the New York Philharmonic, and on more than 20 commercial recordings. 

A contributor to the books, The Provost’s Handbook and LGBTQ Leadership in Higher Education, his writing has also been included in Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories that Shape Our Culture.

Gandre will address Lawrence University’s students at their Baccalaureate Service on June 8. He will be awarded the honorary doctorate on June 9, alongside fellow alum Pawo Choyning Dorji, an Oscar-nominated Bhutanese filmmaker.

“I am profoundly moved to receive this recognition from an institution that has played such an important role in my life,” Gandre said in the press release. “I look forward to returning to the Lawrence campus in June and reconnecting with this foundational part of my past – a place that continues to play a crucial role in so many futures.”

“We are thrilled to welcome these two accomplished Lawrentians back to campus as we celebrate the achievements of our 2024 graduates,” added Lawrence President Laurie A. Carter. “Their journeys are wonderful examples of the power of a liberal arts education.”

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