Lee News

Thomas Named Distinguished Professor



Dr. Phillip Thomas was recently awarded the rank of Distinguished Professor of Music by the Lee University Board of Directors. This title is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a member of Lee’s faculty.
Thomas Named Distinguished Prof
Dr. Phillip Thomas


Thomas is one of only six professors in Lee’s history to be awarded the title of “Distinguished Professor.” He joins Bob Barnett, Debbie Murray, Carolyn Dirksen, and Jean Eledge as active members of the faculty who bear this title.

“To be included in such an elite group of Lee educators, many of whom have been my mentors, is indeed an honor,” said Thomas. “I consider it a privilege to live out my calling by working with our great students and faculty.”

A teacher, music historian, and pianist, Thomas began his career at Lee as a piano instructor in 1977. Since then, he has filled a number of roles, including classroom and studio teacher, accompanist, ensemble director, and administrator.

His current teaching responsibilities include graduate and undergraduate courses in music history and literature, as well as some studio teaching. Thomas chairs the Musicianship Studies Department and serves on a number of university committees. He is also the founding executive director of Lee’s annual Piano Festival.

Thomas is listed in “Who’s Who Among American Teachers” and is a member of the American Musicological Society, the College Music Society, and Music Teachers National Association. He has served as a board member for the Tennessee Music Teachers Association and the Chattanooga Youth Symphony and as keyboardist for the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra.

In 1996, Thomas established Lee’s Chamber Orchestra after serving as founding conductor of a community string orchestra for several years. He studied conducting at the Institute Provençe-Aubagne in France with Yves Cohen, a student of Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa.

Thomas earned his Doctor of Philosophy in music history from the University of Cincinnati, his Master of Music in piano from Peabody Conservatory of Music, and his Bachelor of Arts from Lee.
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