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Alumni Spotlights

Highlighting alumni contributions

Cliffe College alumni are everywhere. Lincoln Center. Warhol Museum. Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Billboard charts. Grammy and Emmy Awards. Disney. Hundreds of university and school classrooms across the country. They are leaders, artists, innovators, scholars, creators, and game changers. They are making a difference. We're very proud of them.

We celebrate the legacies of our alumni and highlight the contributions they've made to their communities, their professions, and the College.


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headshot of Phyllis Paul

“Our alumni are exceptional. Their lives and broadly diverse careers are a part of so many facets of America’s cultural and educational fabric. It is always gratifying to hear about what they’re doing and how they're impacting the world in deeply meaningful ways.”

Phyllis M. Paul, Dean and Professor


Nashville Great Speaks at Commencement

Robert J. “Bob” DiPiero (BFA, ’76), a Dana School of Music alumnus, spoke at YSU’s fall 2023 undergraduate commencement ceremony Sunday, December 17, 2023 in Beeghly Center. One of Nashville’s most prolific songwriters, DiPiero has been recognized in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, among his numerous other awards.

“Trillium” CD

Harold Danko (B.M.M.E., ’69) released his third album “Trillium” December 1, 2023, which works to extract source materials from Stravinski’s “The Rite of Spring,” arguably one of the most influential pieces of the 20th century. Performers include Danko, Rich Perry on tenor saxophone, and Kirk Knuffke on cornet.

Trillium image

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CreativeOhio Artist Champion Award

Daniel Rauschenbach (B.F.A., ‘12, 3D Studies) was presented the 2023 Artist Champion Award at the CreativeOhio Champion (CO-Champion) Advocacy Awards Luncheon October 20, 2023 at The Lake Club in Poland, Ohio. Part of CreativeOhio’s inaugural award presentation in the Mahoning Valley region, the selection committee honored Rauschenbach because of his work to promote emerging and established regional artists in his galleries. Rauschenbach is the former co-owner of The SOAP Gallery in Youngstown, OH and recently opened Rauschenbach Studios in Struthers OH, which offers paintings, ornaments, ceramics, prints, drawings, and home décor gifts.

Stephen Philip Harvey Jazz Orchestra releases new album “Smash

The Stephen Philip Harvey Jazz Orchestra, led by and named after 2016 YSU Master of Music graduate Stephen Harvey, released their new album “Smash” June 17, 2022. Featuring 11 additional Dana School of Music alumni, the album includes nine comic book-inspired pieces by Harvey, who is also an adjunct professor at YSU.


Headshot of Stephen

Emmy Award-winner Dan Wegendt featured on YSU Alumni Lecture Series

Graphic and interactive design alumnus Dan Wegendt (B.F.A., ’07) has been selected as the focus of the newest YSU Alumni Lecture Series. He currently serves as senior graphic designer at the Insurance Institute for Business Home and Safety, where he specializes in graphic design, animation, and video production. During his previous job at The Weather Channel, Wegendt was part of a team that won an Emmy Award for “Immersive Mixed Reality Storytelling: Outstanding Science, Medical or Environmental Report.”

Teaching Artist for Pittsburgh Musical Theatre

After graduation, Carmella Donofrio (B.A. Music & Theatre Studies, ‘23) began working as a teaching artist for Pittsburgh Musical Theatre. She teaches theatre classes for K -8 students that include puppetry, backdrops, storytelling, and other additional aspects of the theatre field.

Headshot of Carmella

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Astra Zarnia Early Career Fellowship

Anthony Angelilli (B.F.A., ’19, Interdisciplinary Studio Art) was recently awarded the prestigious Astra Zarnia Early Career Fellowship by the Citiva Institute in Northern Italy. He also had a solo exhibition in March 2020 at Trumbull Art Gallery (TAG) in Warren, OH.

2020 Outstanding School Administrator of the Year

Tom Yazvac (B.A., ’89, B.S., & M.M.E., ’91) was named the Ohio Music Education Association’s 2020 Outstanding School Administrator of the Year. Mr. Yazvac is the Superintendent of Springfield Local Schools in New Middleton, Ohio.

Headshot of Tom Yazvac

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London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art Shakespeare Certificate

Jessica Hirsh (B.F.A., ’19, Musical Theatre Track) recently earned a Shakespeare Certificate from the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art and is currently pursuing the highly competitive M.F.A. in Acting at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Winner

Victor Cardamone (B.M.E., ’16), tenor, won the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Indiana District and won the Encouragement Award at the Central Regional Auditions.

Headshot of Victor Cardamone

Headshot of Dominic Lippillo

Artist + Educator

Dominic Lippillo (B.F.A., ’05, Studio Art) is Associate Professor of Photography at Mississippi State University. His research questions the role of photography by making digitally constructed images that address notions of space versus place, memory, and experience. His work has been featured in publications such as Don’t Take Pictures, Mono Chroma, Exposure, Daily Serving,and The Eye of Photographyand is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Photographic Art and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Monograph Publication

Christina Reitz (B.M., ’00) published a monograph, Jennifer Higdon: Composer in Color(MacFarland, 2018). Dr. Reitz is currently an Associate Professor of Music History at Western Carolina University.

Photo of Christina Reitz holding her book

Performer + Educator

Sean Jones (B.M., ‘00) was named Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair of Jazz at Peabody Conservatory in fall 2018. Prior to his appointment at Peabody, he served as brass department chair at the Berklee College of Music and is former lead trumpeter with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.


Learn more about these and other outstanding alumni