Ithaca College has announced that the School of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts will merge to create a new school, the Ithaca College School of Music, Theatre and Dance, on July 1.
In a Jan. 25 email to the campus community, Interim President La Jerne Cornish and Interim Provost Melanie Stein stated that once the merger is complete, the School of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts will make up a respective Division of Music and a Division of Theatre and Dance within the new School of Music, Theatre and Dance, which will each have associate deans.
“This new school will highlight and celebrate the performing arts at Ithaca College, allowing for more cross-disciplinary education and exposure and better preparing students for real-world multidisciplinary artistic careers in the 21st century,” the email said.
According to the email, a School of Music/Department of Theatre Arts Transition Committee met weekly throughout Fall 2021 to discuss the merger. The committee will continue to meet to plan the merge and advise the college’s administration.
The email also stated that the new school will allow students in the School of Music and in the Department of Theatre Arts to continue their degrees.
“Both new and returning students will find their education enriched as their new school begins to take advantage of natural synergies and opportunities for collaboration, with fewer barriers to engaging in cross-division learning,” the email said.
According to the email, a search for the dean of the new school has begun. The previous dean of the School of Music, Karl Paulnack, stepped down at the end of the 2020–21 academic year. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the college’s finances initially resulted in the postponement of the dean search until October 2020. Then the search was postponed for the 2020–21 academic year because of ongoing academic review.
The college restarted the search for a new dean in Fall 2021. At the Oct. 5 State of the College meeting, Stein announced that chairs for the search committee had been appointed, and she announced the members of the search committee Nov. 11.
The Jan. 25 email stated that the merger aligns with the strategic plan, Ithaca Forever, and is a part of the second phase of the Academic Program Prioritization (APP), which involves restructuring different academic areas of the college. The first phase of the APP involved the ongoing elimination of 116 full-time equivalent faculty positions and a number of majors, departments and programs.
“We are excited by the prospects that our School of Music, Theatre and Dance will open up for our community to discover — together — new opportunities for unlocking the potential in our students and in the programs that serve them, building upon the remarkable legacy of our alumni who continue to be trailblazers in their fields,” the email stated.