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November 30, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 40°F

Opinion

Recommendation for the creation of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, Dec. 3, 2021

Friday, December 3, 2021 

To: Melanie Stein – Interim Provost 

From: Cynthia Henderson – Professor and Assoc. Chair, Performance Faculty, Theatre Arts  

Jennifer Kay – Associate Professor, Music Performance  

Benjamin Rochford – Associate Director of Bands, Assistant Professor, Music Performance  

Saviana Stanescu – Associate Professor, Theatre Studies, Theatre Arts  

Steve TenEyck – Professor and Chair, Production & Design Faculty, Theatre Arts  

Ivy Walz – Interim Dean, School of Music  

Lilly Westbrook – Teaching Staff, Costume Shop Manager, Theatre Arts  

John White – Associate Professor, Music Theory, History, Composition  

Baruch Whitehead – Associate Professor, Music Education  

Bradley Whittemore – Director of Music Admission  

Christopher Zemliauskas – Assistant Professor, Director Musical Theatre & Opera 

Re: Recommendation from the SOM/DTA Transition Committee 

Provost Stein,  

The School of Music & Department of Theatre Arts Transition Committee would like to unanimously recommend that we move forward under the one school model with the name of School of Music, Theatre, and Dance (MTD) with a Division of Music and a Division of Theatre & Dance. We also propose maintaining two independent planning units with their robust governance structures intact including leadership, tenure and promotion, curriculum, and assessments to name a few. Additionally, we recommend that this new model include two Associate Deans: one from Music and one from Theatre & Dance. We also recommend that the institution seize on this moment as an opportunity to capitalize in the marketplace with intentional positive messaging around uniting these two strong programs. 

The reasons for this recommendation are as follows: 

  • This proposed model will align with the four other schools at Ithaca College with one dean and an associate dean(s) structure per school. 
  • This proposal will create an adaptive academic unit to serve current and future students in the arts by allowing for more cross-disciplinary training and exposure, better preparing them for real world multi-disciplinary artistic careers in the 21st century.
  • This proposal honors the first two units at Ithaca College (Music and Theatre Arts) as foundational to the formation of Ithaca College. With this unification, there is great potential to be more prominently visible for prospective students and to attract an expanding donor base alike.  
  • The proposed model of one school will elevate the uniting of two strong units, creating a moment to display to the outside world a position of strength, placing them in a more prominent institutional position from the outward facing perspective. 
  • This proposal reaffirms the mutual commitment of both divisions in their work to be leaders in inclusive and anti-racist practice in the performing arts by creating space for both units to foster the work that has begun, as well as collaborate in the work moving forward.  
  • This proposal benefits both units by allowing for more ease of future curricular collaboration, and provides opportunity for Music and Theatre Music colleagues to work intentionally across curriculum. 
  • This proposal allows for a level of autonomy for each planning unit, as it recognizes the need for specialists, and that certain areas may experience less cross-collaboration. Yet, over time, as the needs of our students may evolve, this model provides an opportunity to collaborate more effectively, thereby leveraging the stature and strength of both units into a stronger identity.  
  • This proposal further elevates the prominence of the dance area within theatre arts. 
  • This proposal positions the search for a new dean to be successful, attracting excellent candidates with this exciting opportunity, leading this newly formed school at Ithaca College.
  • This proposal serves to be a model for the rest of the College, in as much as this work demonstrates a process and precedent for how to innovate and transform in leveraging the strengths of each planning unit. We recognize that more collaborations are desired among the five schools, and it is our hope that through this work we will discover more clearly and share with our colleagues what we learn to help remove the existing barriers for cross disciplinary work. Page Break 

Context and Background 

The School of Music and Department of Theatre Arts Transition Team spent the better part of the Fall semester learning about one another’s structures, collecting feedback and input from colleagues, benchmarking competitor, and comparator institutions, and engaging in robust conversations around many questions, concerns and ideas around coming together under one dean. 

As we examined the structures, we learned about the Planning Unit. The main official organizational unit, as spelled out in section 4.9.7 of the Faculty Handbook is the Planning Unit. Faculty with a variety of appointment types (tenured, tenure-eligible, non-tenure-eligible notice, part time, etc.) are appointed to a planning unit, and each planning unit maintains curricular and staffing plans. Formal reviews of faculty, for instance tenure reviews, begin with a review and recommendation by a planning unit review committee. Procedures for changes in planning units, such as combining two planning units, dissolving a planning unit, or creating new planning units are specified in the handbook. 

The term “planning unit” is something new to many of us. We are much more familiar with other organizational structures such as departments, schools, and divisions. Interim Provost Stein helped us in understanding that currently, our planning units are organized into five groupings, the five schools. Each school also has departments, but they are not necessarily the same as planning units (some departments are planning units, and some are not. Some planning units contain multiple departments, whereas other planning units contain exactly one department). Thus, departmental functions vary across the College. Schools, divisions, and departments can be reorganized without following the process outlined in section 4.9.9 of the faculty manual. 

As an example, suppose two departments (also planning units) on campus who are closely allied have been exploring how to reorganize to work more closely together. They have two options: 

  1. Join to become a single planning unit (and department), with a new name reflecting the combined nature. They must follow the faculty handbook process outlined in section 4.9.9.
  2. Remain two planning units but combine to become a single department with a new name reflecting the combined nature.

Both options will require changes to the website to reflect the new structure. And in either structure, they may want to name the two parts of the department (in option 1) or the planning units (in option 2) to maintain the identities they bring. They could refer to themselves, for instance, as two programs (or divisions or some new noun) within a department. Each runs several degree programs. 

Both options allow for each planning unit (Music & Theatre) to maintain their discrete budgets, endowed funds and annual use funds. There is the possibility in the one school model that additional fundraising opportunities might present themselves to develop school wide annual use funds. 

Reflecting on the School of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts, two of the planning units at Ithaca College, which are to be brought together under one Dean, we recognize there is more than one way to reorganize. We are proposing that the best way forward is simply to bring the two planning units under a single school’s umbrella, without changing the two planning units and the faculty lines and curricula (degree programs) within them, all without invoking the procedures in the Faculty Manual (since no changes to planning units are contemplated) 

 My signature below indicates my support for the recommendation. 

  • John W. White, Associate Professor, Music Theory, History, Composition, Jazz Studies 
  • Marc Webster, Associate Professor, Performance Studies 
  • Christopher Zemliauskas ‘97, Assistant Professor, Performance Studies 
  • Benjamin Rochford, Associate Director of Bands, Performance Studies  
  • Dann Coakwell, Assistant Professor of Voice, Performance Studies 
  • Alison Wahl, Assistant Professor of Voice, Performance Studies 
  • Beatrice Olesko, Assistant Professor, Music Education 
  • Matthew Clauhs, Assistant Professor, Music Education 
  • Sean Linfors, Assistant Professor, Music Education  
  • Morgan Jolley, Assistant Professor, Music Education 
  • James Mick, MM ‘05, Associate Professor, Music Education  
  • Jennifer Kay, Associate Professor, Performance Studies 
  • Martha Guth, Assistant Professor, Performance Studies 
  • Sara Haefeli, Associate Professor, Music Theory, History, and Composition 
  • Kristina Shanton, Music Librarian, & Lecturer, Music Theory, History, and Composition 
  • Shannon Hills, Academic Service Coordinator 
  • Sherri Dunham, Administrative Assistant, Theatre Arts 
  • Chrystyna Dail, Associate Professor, Theatre History and Theatre Studies 
  • Mary Scheidegger, Coordinator of Theatre Operations, Theatre Arts 
  • Amy W. O’Brien, Assistant Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Ryan Dickson ‘18, Instructor, Theatre Arts  
  • Daniel Zimmerman, Assistant Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Cynthia Henderson, Professor, Associate Chair, Theatre Arts 
  • Steve TenEyck, Professor, Chair, Theatre Arts 
  • Lilly Westbrook, Costume Shop Manager, Theatre Arts 
  • Bradley Whittemore ‘16, Director, Music Admission, School of Music 
  • Gregory Evans, G’11, Assistant Professor, Performance Studies, Jazz Studies 
  • Mike Garrett, Lighting and Sound Supervisor, Theatre Arts 
  • Amanda Gladu, Assistant Professor, Theatre Arts  
  • Dawn Pierce, Associate Professor, Performance Studies 
  • Becky Jordan, Manager, Library of Ensemble Music & Music Education Resources 
  • Jeff Theiss, Assistant Professor, Musical Theater, Theatre Arts 
  • Michael Caporizzo ‘10, Assistant Professor & Interim Director of Sound Recording Technology 
  • Sara Jacobs, Administrative Assistant to the Dean, School of Music 
  • Elizabeth Medina-Gray, Assistant Professor, Music Theory, History, and Composition 
  • Felice Doynov, Assistant Director, Music Admission, School of Music  
  • Gavin Mayer, Assistant Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Austin Jones, Assistant Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Ruth Barber, Instructor of Scenic Art and Design, Theatre Arts 
  • Deborah Rifkin, Professor, Music Theory, History, and Composition 
  • Wendy Dann, Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Kitty Whalen, Administrative and Communications Coordinator, School of Music 
  • Ainsley Anderson ‘10, Instructor, Theatre Arts 
  • Don Tindall, Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Colin Stewart, Associate Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Walter Byongsok Chon, Assistant Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Molly Windover, Scheduling and Events Assistant, School of Music 
  • Ivy Walz, ‘98, ‘02, Associate Professor Performance Studies, Interim Dean, School of Music 
  • Catherine Weidner, Professor and Former Chair of Theatre Arts (2013-2021)  
  • Seth Soulstein, Lecturer, Theatre Arts 
  • Michael Samuel Kaplan, Assistant Professor, Acting 
  • Saviana Stanescu, Associate Professor, Playwriting, BA in Theatre Studies Program Coordinator 
  • Courtney Young, Assistant Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Daniel Gwirtzman, Assistant Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Paula Murray Cole ‘87, Associate Professor, Theatre Arts 
  • Joey Bromfield, Scene Shop and Props Supervisor, Theatre Arts 
  • Angela Branneman, Associate Professor and Degree Coordinator, Theatre Arts Management