Save VU Jazz!

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My name is Steven Mileusnich, a current freshman at Valparaiso University and first-year member of the VU Jazz Ensemble. Due to cost-cutting measures the university has seen fit to take, Prof. Jeffrey C. Brown, director of the VU Jazz Ensemble, will no longer be employed by the university as of May 2021. The university has suggested that there is an active search for a suitable replacement. However, the future of the jazz program after Prof. Brown’s departure has not been confirmed.

I am kindly asking for your signature in support of the Save VU Jazz petition, which aims to ensure the continuation of the Valparaiso University Jazz Program and all associated events, most notably, the VU Jazz Fest, after the departure of Prof. Brown.

Program administration and funding are serious matters and, understandably, oftentimes difficult to manage equitably. The challenges of discontinuing certain programs as a result of financial strain are also understood. However, the incremental loss of programs such as the jazz program, does have an effect on how the school is perceived by the public and, most importantly, by future Valparaiso University applicants.

The jazz program provides tremendous value to its member students at the university. Jazz allows for individual expression and creativity, making it inherently different from most other styles of music. The jazz ensemble serves as an opportunity for this type of self-expression, which boosts self-esteem and fosters a sense of community among its members. Music programs play an important role in students’ consideration of which colleges they apply to. The absence of a jazz program at Valparaiso University will prompt some applicants to examine other institutions instead.

Prof. Brown has not only organized and conducted a successful jazz studies program for students, but has also facilitated the jazz program’s outreach to the community at large. This has allowed students the unique opportunity to directly interact with the public at events such as the VU Jazz Fest and monthly performances at Duffy’s Place, a local bar and restaurant in Valparaiso. Prof. Brown has been fully vested in his role and responsibilities to the university’s jazz program. The commitment of time that he has brought to the program has extended far beyond any conventional requirements. He has been a motivated instructor, a competent and focused director, and an excellent role model for his students. Prof. Brown embodies the Valparaiso University Jazz Program and has been the reason for its highly regarded reputation and success. I fear that as a result of his departure, the program may decline in quality and prestige. Therefore, it is pertinent that the university find a qualified instructor to continue Prof. Brown’s legacy of excellence.

The purpose of this campaign is to recognize the importance of the jazz program to Valparaiso University, to remind the administration of its continuing value, and to formally request that the university ensure the program’s continuation at the same level of excellence maintained by Prof. Brown during his tenure.

Thank you for your support,

Steven Mileusnich