May 21, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 78°F

Opinion

Letter from former music faculty and administrators asking for halt of music-theater merger, Jan. 10, 2022

(The following letter was sent to the addressees on January 10, 2022)

To: Interim President Cornish Interim Provost Stein Board of Trustees Chairs Lissy and Nolan

From: Former School of Music Faculty Members and Administrators

Re: Proposed Merger of School of Music and Department of Theater Arts

This letter is coming to you from 18 former faculty members and administrators of the School of Music. This group represents decades of senior leadership at the College and in the School of Music. These individuals also served as members of the Board of Trustees, Associate Provost, Interim Provost, Dean of Music, Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, interim Dean of Music, and department chairs. This group is part of the College’s “institutional history” with over 600 combined years of service and teaching. These many years of experience at Ithaca College have provided us with a great perspective on the School, its position in the College, and its national visibility.

We are united in our belief that this proposed merger should be halted. It is unclear even why this merger is being proposed, and if there is support for this action among the current faculty members and administrators in the School of Music, School of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Theater Arts. It is our opinion that this merger would do harm to the School of Music and its national reputation, and would not enhance that of the theater program. Several alumni have contacted us to express their concern that this merger will damage the College. At a time of financial challenges and a reduction in alumni giving, this can only erode that future giving even further.

We echo the words of the current senior leaders in the School of Music and quote their letter:

“First and foremost, the College is experiencing an unprecedented lack of permanent leadership. The interim positions directly affecting the restructuring plan are College President, College Provost, School of Music Dean, and School of Music Associate Dean. In addition, four of the five Deans of the College are interim. A global pandemic, a call for curricular overhaul, declining enrollment, and a reduction of faculty lines due to retirement incentives have left us in a fragile position. We agree that it is extremely important that the College moves ahead to fill the vacancies for the President and Dean positions.

Rather than forge ahead with the restructuring plan to join the Department of Theatre Arts with the School of Music as presented by outgoing leaders, we propose a more calculated, informed, and strategic approach. We ask for this because we care about Ithaca College and the School of Music, the founding cornerstone of the College. We want to leave this college in a better place than when we arrived. We truly want to make decisions that will lead to an Ithaca Forever.

To this end, we propose the following:

1. An opportunity to bring the new Ithaca College President into the discussion on restructuring and benefit from their leadership [and experience].

2. Continuing a search for a Dean of the School of Music who would be tasked with leading the new curriculum, resizing the faculty, and researching the possibility of restructuring the School of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts.

3. A reinstatement of the School of Music Associate Dean

4. Time to confer with alumni, current students, and faculty from Theatre Arts

5. Time to evaluate the specific benefits of restructuring”

Moving ahead to restructure the College and two of its most visible programs in a climate of disagreement and unrest, without evidence of the actual value of the proposed plan, will not serve the College well. We recommend that the Board of Trustees, Interim President, and Interim Provost suspend plans for this merger, and work with the new president, provost, and music dean to collectively and collaboratively create a new and stronger future.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Arlin, Professor Emerita; Member Board of Trustees; Chair of Music Theory, History, and Composition; IC Alum

Susan Avery, Associate Professor; IC Alum

Garry Brodhead, Professor Emeritus; Associate Provost (10 years); Chair of Music Theory, History, and Composition
Frank Campos; Professor Emeritus

Kim Dunnick, Professor Emeritus; Chair of Performance Studies

Steven Mauk, Professor Emeritus; Member Board of Trustees; Interim Dean; Chair of Music Performance; Chair of Music Graduate Studies Deborah Montgomery-Cove, Professor

Paige Morgan, Professor

Timothy Nord, Associate Professor

Arthur Ostrander, Professor Emeritus; Dean of School of Music (23 years); Chair of Music Graduate Studies

Alex Perialas, Associate Professor

Mark A. Radice, Professor; Chair of Music Graduate Studies

Peter Rothbart, Professor; Chair of College Faculty Council; IC Alumnus

Gordon Stout, Professor Emeritus; Chair of Performance Studies

Gregory Woodward, Professor; Current President of University of Hartford; Former President of Carthage College; Ithaca College: Interim Provost; Dean of Music; Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies; Chair of Music Graduate Studies; IC Alumnus