Professor Lee

Today is a big day. A very big day. Huge.

I had an hour-long meeting with Duane Funderburk, Dean of the School of Music at APU. It turns out that the Michael Lee brand of “Amuse and Abuse” teaching is in high demand there.

I’ve been offered a full-time contract. For those of you outside of the academic world, it might be hard to appreciate just how momentous this is. For the school of music to get administrative permission to add new full-time faculty is roughly as difficult as, say, growing a third arm. There are people with graduate degrees from heavy duty schools who having been waiting 10 years for full-time positions to open up. The Dean had to do some pretty deft political maneuvering to get this one; he actually borrowed a contract that belongs to a different position, and is using it for me for this year, while they work on getting final approval for the new expanded position.

We spent most of the hour talking about what my new faculty responsibilities will be. I’m going to continue teaching the Introduction to Music Technology courses, going to expand my teaching in the Master’s of Worship Leadership program, and am going to develop and teach a new Senior level course in Music, Ethics and Spirituality, something I’ve been spending a lot of time on.

About a year and a half ago, Gretchen and I started looking at full-time church positions. I flew out to candidate as some places, and talked with a dozen or so search committees from mega-churches all over the US. Nothing felt right. There were some positions that we felt we could be successful in, but they would fall through, or we would get through a month of conversations, and the church would suddenly decide that I wasn’t the right fit. It was tiring, frustrating, and I emerged from the experience feeling like I had a valuable skill set that nobody seemed interested in making use of.

A few months after the final interview, after we decided that we weren’t going to look at any more church positions, I had my first meeting with Duane, where he proposed the possibility of this full-time position. I remember sitting in that meeting, thinking, “This is it. This is what was waiting for me, why everything I tried to force into place fell through.” I marveled at the providence of God in the midst of my own stubbornness and short-sightedness. I also remember thinking that I could do this for the rest of my life, and be very satisfied.

Here are some of the things that are very cool about this:

I get to go back to school, to get a Doctorate in Music, and they’ll pick up 75% of the tab.

I get to stop writing a $650 check every month to pay for medical insurance for our family.

That thing I do where I dork around in the studio, create music, that whole thing? It’s now officially called “Research”. And releasing the CD is called “Publishing”.

I get an office. With administrative support. And a ficus.

Sophia gets to go to APU for free. Also, Gretchen and I have worked out this thing where we’ll charge you 1/2 of what APU does, then we’ll adopt your kid for 4 years while they go to school. It’s called a “win-win”.

We can buy a house, because for the first time in a long time, we know where we’ll be in 5 years.

I get a free MacBook Pro. The big one.

I get to do music. Everyday. With students who want to learn to do music. With peers who love to teach. In a place that recognizes and values the spiritual dynamic of creative work.

Today is a big day. A very big day. Huge.

28 thoughts on “Professor Lee

  1. Josiah

    Awesome!!!, I’ll apply for the adoption thing too! haha! Man that is sooo sweet!!!

  2. Zack

    Unbelievable. Awesome. Whoa. Rad. Sweet. Dude….

    All of these words come to mind. it sounds like the perfect opportunity. Now that you’ll be nearer my neck of the woods (Silverlake), we should geek out together. Or, poker. Or, beer. Or, whatever.

    Congrats, Mike. This sounds incredible!

  3. Rach

    Hey, it’s about freakin’ time! Congrats on the offer and yay God! I look forward to you and Gretchen adopting my three children in about 13 years…

  4. Matt West

    Bravo Michael! Your patience and endurance have not gone unnoticed, in fact, you have served as an example, perhaps more than you will ever know. And, there is something to be said for knowing where you and your family will be in five years. You are a true musical genius…Congrats!

  5. Chad


    And again I say:


    So, now alls you need to do is pick out that cute house in Simi Valley that you’ve always dreamed of.

  6. Stick

    Well, dang, that rips. I’m not sure how you’re gonna pull off that commute when you move up here though… you should talk to the higher-ups about use of the Gulfstream for commuting.

    Sheesh, the new laptop is reason enough to stay for the long-term.

    If you need any short-term “producer/mixer-in-residence” sort of deals, hit me up.

    Big congrats, my friend.

  7. Karen

    This post just brings joy to my heart! Yeah Mike! We are so excited for you! Now about that adopting your kid for 4 year thing…. :0)

  8. aly hawkins

    HOLY CRAP. I just got choked up. This is a really, really good reason to bust out the good wine, and I hope we’re invited.

    Congratulations, Professor Mike. I couldn’t be happier for you.

  9. Alex

    That’s so great! I’m ecstatic for you and to hear you go into full time being able to work on those music/ethics/spirituality topics… that’s awesome. I love hearing about our own human realization of God’s providence. It’s overwhelmingly beyond our comprehension until we can see everything hindsight. Congrats!

  10. harmonicminer

    Speaking very, very, VERY selfishly……CONGRATULATIONS, MIKE!!!!!! I’m simply delighted.

    MADE my day.

    They don’t even give ME the BIG laptop. How’d you work that, huh?

  11. Matty

    So stoked for you, dude. The whole “financial security” and “medical insurance” things are really a bit overrated, but the MacBook Pro is definitely a perk.

    When you get your new office, can we break it in with beer and cigars? Or is that still not cool?

    Just remember to leave your off door locked — you must never forget what happened to Alan Johnson.

  12. michael lee Post author

    Thank you all. Now please excuse me while I go back through the blog and delete anything I may have said that would incriminate me.

  13. Grammy

    Omigosh! You were like, this jerky college kid like, yesterday, and like, today we have to, like, call you “professor”?!! DUDE!!!!! (Couldn’ta happened to a nicer musician…)

  14. Sharolyn

    They couldn’t hire a more qualified or deserving person. I am thrilled for you. Does this all start with the Fall Semester? And what happened to Alan Johnson??

  15. rod

    Congratulations Prof. Lee. I understand deeply what a big occasion this is. Not only in academia, but in our tiny little music world, and then in a Christian environment.
    A couple years ago, i was asked to perform on a concert honoring my former prof’s 25 years, and talking with him afterward about it all, he told me, “I have always been confident that I do a good job, and deserve this position; but not a day goes by that I don’t wake up thankful that I have it.” Since then, I’ve never put foot to floor without that grateful thought.
    God Bless

  16. june

    Prof Lee,
    I’m quite sure you’ll want to incorporate these truths ( into your research and teaching on music, ethics and spirituality.

    Congratulations! And, you and Gretchen best get yourselves a mighty big casa because in about 15 years, everybody from blogland is going to be sending you adoption papers for their offspring!

  17. Cheryl

    Micheal—a most heartfelt and sincere congratulations on your new position at APU! As I read your post, it’s been a similar journey as my husbands. After leaving that mega church 2 years ago, he recognized the immense need for post-secondary schools to to develop “contempary” worship programs. Even some of the most recognized Christian schools here in the Minneapolis area either had no or, at the least, very weak contempary worship training AS PART OF THEIR CIRRICULUM. He approached some of them about helping to develop a comtempary program. Some were intrigued, some were not. Nothing came of it. After working in A LOT of churches over the years, Bruce is still astonished at the lack of training. It just confirms the coast is more progressive than the midwest, I guess. Sorry for my ridiculously long comment but I couldn’t find an email address for you. Again, best wishes for your new position at APU!

  18. michael lee Post author

    Well, I had my final interview today with the Provost of the University, which was the last step in the formal process of getting this thing inked. It was brief, surprisingly casual, and included the phrase, “I think this is the first time the words ‘Bare Naked’, ‘Bitch’, and ‘Melissa Etheridge’ have ever appeared together on an APU application.”

    I get the keys to my new office on Monday, and it took me all of about 30 seconds to blow through my annual book budget on Amazon. Aly, I pre-ordered 190 copies of “My Lover Is Mine”, and am making it a mandatory text for the Advanced MIDI Technology class. Seemed like a good fit.

  19. aly hawkins

    Yay! And you’re right…MLIM is a GREAT fit for your MIDI class! How rad will it be when we put out the CD of the Hebrew-folk/sexy grooves your students will compose, inspired by their sexual frustration?

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