USC Music, Dean of Dance Robert Cutietta receives Presidential Medal



Each year from 1983 to 2020, USC has awarded the USC Presidential Medallion to one or two individuals who have brought great honor and distinction to the university community. Last year, all USC staff, faculty, and healthcare professionals received the Presidential Medal after their continued work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, for their work to advance the university’s global mission, three members of the Trojan family were honored by USC President Carol L. Folt at the 41st Annual Convening of Academic Honors on Tuesday. USC News presents the three winners. Today’s winner: Robert Cutietta, Dean of USC Thornton School of Music and USC Kaufman School of Dance.

Robert Cutietta had no idea USC would open a dance school when he arrived at the university in 2002, let alone that he would become its dean.

Cutietta was originally chosen as Dean of the USC Thornton School of Musicand nearly a decade after arriving on campus, he was responsible for starting and leading the USC Kaufman School of Dance, the university’s first new school in 41 years. This service to the arts earned him one of that year’s USC Presidential Medallions.

I’m a bassist at heart. And what that means is I stay back, provide the foundation, and let other people take the lead on the solos.

Robert CutiettaPresidential Medal recipient

“I have to admit, I had to prepare for this,” Cutietta said of her dance school assignment. “I am a bass player at heart. And what that means is I stay back, provide the foundation, and let other people take the lead on the solos. I feel like I was like that being a dean too.

Cutietta, a lifelong scholar, served as director of the School of Music and Dance at the University of Arizona before coming to USC. He has performed and composed music for film and television, including the television series Lost Legends of the West, and has published a series of articles and books on music education, including Raising Child Musicians: A Parent’s Guide and Who knew? Answers to Classical Music Questions You Never Thought You’d Askboth published by Oxford University Press.

Robert Cutietta: introducing innovative degrees

At USC, Cutietta introduced innovative degrees, including a groundbreaking popular music performance program that Rolling Stone called “the cutting-edge department that became the site of Los Angeles’ most productive new music scenes”.

“The popular music program is still pretty much the only one there is,” Cutietta said. “We extended that to production and EDM [electronic dance music] – I mean, in which schools can you major in EDM creation? »

He applied this same innovative approach to programs at the USC Kaufman School.

“What started to emerge was a school where you don’t really train dancers,” he said. “You create artists who are dance makers.”

Double duty as Dean of USC Thornton School of Music and USC Kaufman School of Dance

Cutietta, who has served as dual dean of USC Thornton and USC Kaufman since the school of dance opened, will retire at the end of the 2022 academic year. , Cutietta participated in the search for two new deans.

“The worst thing that can happen to an institution is that it starts to stagnate, and it’s hard to keep innovating when the same people are in charge of everything,” he said. “Somebody has to come along and shake it up with new ideas. For the sake of the schools, it really is the time for new deans.

More stories on: Awards, Dance, Faculty, Music

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