May 21, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 90°F

Opinion

Music faculty letter asks for reconsideration of music-theater merger process and timeline, Dec. 14, 2021

Please note: The following submission was sent to The Ithacan in advance of the recent announcement re: the restructuring of the School of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts.  Its publication was delayed due to Ithaca College being remote during the first week of classes.  That said, the signees still believe it important to share.

The following letter was sent to the Ithaca College Board of Trustees and the Interim Senior Leadership on Dec. 14, 2021.  It comes from 15 senior tenured faculty in the School of Music. In addition, a similarly worded letter was sent to the Interim President, Interim Provost, and the Board of Trustees Chairs from 18 recently retired music faculty members, representing over 600 years of combined service, and including those who have served as Provosts, School of Music Deans, Department Chairs, Chair of Faculty Council, and members of the Board of Trustees, as well as in several other high-profile positions at the College.

With no specific plan of action, goals or outcomes driving/supporting the interim leadership’s proposal to combine the School of Music with the Department of Theatre Arts, the challenges that face the School are only increased, making recruitment and fundraising even more difficult.  Thus, the genesis for the five requests articulated in the letter below.

Through the publication of this letter, we, the signees, are committed to sharing a wider sampling of the opinions of the faculty within the School of Music regarding the proposed restructuring.

The Board of Trustees Chairs acknowledged receipt of the faculty letter.

To: Board of Trustees, Interim President Cornish and Interim Provost Stein

We, senior leaders and tenured faculty in the School of Music who have affixed our signatures to this short letter, urge you to reconsider the timeline for the proposed restructuring of the School of Music. We are convinced, now more than ever, that the announcement made in May 2021 to restructure the School of Music was mistimed, especially considering the subsequent resignation of President Collado.

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.

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 in a climate of disagreement and unrest will not serve the college well. We wish to work together with a new President and a new Dean to create a new, stronger future. Signatures, listed alphabetically, are on following page.

Les Black, Associate Professor; Chair, Graduate Studies; Faculty Council

Diane Birr, Professor; Vice Chair, Faculty Council

Radio Cremata, Associate Professor; Chair, Music Education

Craig Cummings, Professor; Past Interim Dean; Past Chair, Theory, History, Composition

Charis Dimaras, Professor, Faculty Council

Richard Faria, Professor

Jorge Grossman, Professor

Keith Kaiser, Professor; Dana Professor; Past Interim Dean; Past Interim Associate Dean; Past Chair, Music Education

Deborah Martin, Professor; Chair, Performance Studies

Wendy Mehne, Professor Dmitri Novgorodsky, Associate Professor

Patrice Pastore, Professor

Evis Sammoutis, Associate Professor

Vadim Serebryany, Associate Professor, Faculty Council

Alex Shuhan, Professor

Dmitri Novgorodsky, Associate Professor