Music faculty letter calls for reconsideration of musical theater merger process and timeline, December 14, 2021
Please Note: The following submission was sent to Ithaca before the recent announcement regarding the restructuring of the School of Music and the Department of Theater Arts. Its publication was delayed due to the distance from Ithaca College during the first week of classes. That said, the signatories still believe in the importance of sharing.
The following letter was sent to the Ithaca College Board of Trustees and Interim Senior Leadership on December 14, 2021. It is from 15 top tenured faculty in the School of Music. Additionally, a similarly worded letter was sent to the Acting President, Acting Vice Provost, and Board Chairs by 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, Faculty Council Chair and Board Members, as well as several other high-level positions at College.
In the absence of a specific action plan, goals or outcomes motivating/supporting the interim leadership’s proposal to combine the School of Music with the Department of Theater Arts, the challenges facing the School will not are only increasing, making recruiting and fundraising even more difficult. Thus, the genesis of the five demands articulated in the letter below.
By publishing this letter, we, the signatories, pledge to share a broader cross section of School of Music faculty views regarding the proposed restructuring.
The chairpersons of the board of trustees have acknowledged receipt of the letter from the faculty.
To: Board of Trustees, Acting President Cornish and Acting Provost Stein
We, the senior leaders and tenured professors of the School of Music who have placed our signatures on this short letter, urge you to reconsider the timing of 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 untimely, especially given the subsequent resignation of President Collado.
First and foremost, the College is experiencing an unprecedented lack of ongoing leadership. The acting positions that directly affect the restructuring plan are those of college president, college president, dean of the school of music, and associate dean of the school of music. In addition, four of the five deans of the College are acting. A global pandemic, a call for a curriculum overhaul, declining enrollment and reduced faculty lines due to retirement incentives have left us in a fragile position. We agree that it is extremely important that the college move forward to fill the vacancies of President and Dean.
Rather than moving forward with the restructuring plan to join the Department of Theater Arts to the School of Music as presented by outgoing leaders, we are proposing a more calculated, informed and strategic approach. We ask 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 really 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 president of Ithaca College into the restructuring discussion and benefit from his leadership.
2. Pursue the search for a Dean of the School of Music who would be responsible for leading the new program, resizing the faculty, and exploring the possibility of restructuring the School of Music and the Department of Theater Arts.
3. Reinstatement of the Associate Dean of the School of Music
4. Time to chat with alumni, current students, and teachers of the theater arts
5. Time to assess specific benefits of restructuring
Going forward to restructure the college in a climate of disagreement and turmoil will not serve the college well. We want to work with a new president and a new dean to create a new and stronger future. The signatures, listed in alphabetical order, can be found on the following page.
Les Black, associate professor; Chair, Graduate Studies; Faculty Council
Diane Birr, professor; Vice President, Faculty Council
Radio Cremata, associate professor; Chair, Music Education
Craig Cummings, professor; former acting dean; Former President, Theory, History, Composition
Charis Dimaras, Professor, Faculty Council
Richard Faria, professor
Jorge Grossman, teacher
Keith Kaiser, professor; Professor Dana; former acting dean; former acting associate dean; Past President, Music Education
Deborah Martin, teacher; 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, teacher
Dmitry Novgorodsky, Associate Professor