Michael Caldwell

Michael Caldwell performing on the trumpet
College of Arts and Letters
Department of Music
Office MUS14

Dr. Michael Caldwell, Professor – Department of Music

Dr. Michael Caldwell, originally from Seattle, Washington, relocated with his family to the San Francisco Bay Area when he was eight years of age. He attended seven different schools prior to college, providing the opportunity to experience connecting with a diverse array of cultures, educators, friends, and neighbors.

After attending Pittsburg High School (California) and engaging in a very active life as a young musician in the San Francisco Bay Area, performing in multiple genres of music from classical to jazz and R&B, Michael earned degrees in music from Los Medanos College (A.A., 1982) and California State University, Fresno (B.A., 1984). Due to his strong connection to mentors in higher education, Michael pursued a Master’s in Music Performance (M.M., 1987) and a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A., 1997) from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. During his doctoral study, he obtained an Illinois teaching credential and gained valuable experience as a public-school music teacher from 1989-1991. In 1991, he accepted a position on the music faculty at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, where he served for eight years.

With a desire to spend more time as an active performer, Michael relocated to Seattle, Washington, in 1999, where he performed with the Seattle Symphony and many local jazz artists for three years before returning to higher education in 2002 as a professor at his Alma Mater, Fresno State. Upon his return, he replaced two of his past mentors as Professor of Trumpet and Director of Jazz Studies. His jazz ensembles were regularly among the highest rated college groups at the Reno Jazz Festival, with students in his groups earning the overall outstanding musician (2008) and overall outstanding trumpet soloist (2008), and students from his private trumpet studio earning the lead and principal trumpet positions in the top California High School All-State Band, Jazz Band, and Orchestra in multiple years. Prior to and throughout his educational training and teaching career, he continued to perform with many notable entertainers, including luminaries Petula Clark, Rosemary Clooney, Natalie Cole, The Four Tops, Bob Hope, Ben E. King, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, Little Anthony, The Platters, The Temptations, Franki Valli, and many others. Dr. Caldwell has also performed with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (WA), Gulf Coast Symphony (MS), and Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra (CA). He has also served on the Board of the International Trumpet Guild (1989-1991) and as Editor-in-Chief of the International Trumpet Guild Journal.

While serving at Fresno State, he gained a passion for policy development and promoting effective shared governance, while developing as a campus leader. Michael’s leadership in the areas of accreditation, budget initiatives, faculty development, campus diversity, universal design, alcohol education, and student wellness were important components to his growth. His active performing career, scholarship, focus on innovative teaching strategies, and service as Department Chair, and Vice Chair and Chair of the Academic Senate, led to his appointment as a Full Professor in the Department of Music (2012), and, subsequently, Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs (2012-2015). In addition, he served as a board member and Chair of the governing board for Fresno’s University High School from 2004-2010, one of the leading charter schools in the U.S., with a curriculum developed around experiences in music and music performance. Under his leadership as Chair, the school constructed an $18 million facility on the Fresno State campus. 

Michael continued gaining experience as an administrator, accepting a position in Academic Personnel at the Office of the Chancellor (2015) for the 23-campus California State University system in Long Beach. In 2017, he returned to campus life to serve as Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. In 2019, he was tapped to serve as the Senior Systemwide Director for Academic Personnel in Systemwide Human Resources at the Office of the Chancellor, overseeing the human resources administration for 29,000 faculty, coaches, and counselors in all aspects of human resources, including the development of multiple training programs for administrators and faculty.

With a desire to work more closely with students and faculty, while returning to his first love of music, Dr. Caldwell retreated as a Full Professor to California State University, Los Angeles, in August 2021, where he served for two years as Chair of the Department of Music, working with an outstanding and diverse group of dedicated students, faculty, and staff. In August 2024, he entered the Faculty Early Retirement Program and from the Fall 2024 semester forward, he will teach half-time in the department until he fully retires from his lifetime work as a musician and educator.

His individual honors include 2010 Provost’s Award for Faculty Service (Fresno State) and California Music Educators Association (CMEA) 2010 President’s Award Honoring Extraordinary Accomplishments in Music Education

Dr. Caldwell has enjoyed long distance running since 2004. He completed 40 marathons, 100 half marathons, and 10 ultra-marathons of 50 miles or more, the longest being 90 miles—all after the age of 43. He ran his first race at any distance in November 2005 at the New York City Marathon, and completed his final marathon in March 2024 at the Los Angeles Marathon. While no longer racing, he continues to pursue an active fitness regimen for health and well-being.