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Please Help Save UMASS Dartmouth's Music Program !

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University Restructuring: Eliminate Our Music Department’s Uniqueness for Students? 

Or – If it Ain’t Broke, ‘Fix’ It ‘Till It Is!


Over the last 35 years there has been an ongoing movement to privatize all aspects of life in our country, espoused now and most fervently by members of the Trump administration, in their endless pursuit of demolishing everything that speaks to the connectedness, mutual responsibility, and genuine caring for all members of our society as a true human family. And by extension, of all the world’s peoples. This connectedness is replaced with a theory of the radical individual who, at all costs, fights alone by the invisible (and oftentimes unrealistic) bootstraps of the self as separate from, and in competition with, ‘the other.’ This flawed philosophy has now metastasized to all aspects of life, including the arts, health care, and education, from K-12 to higher education, and unfortunately, to campuses across our nation, including ours.

There is a current move in the  University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) for ‘restructuring’ that will reorganize departments and this process has the unfortunate outcome of unnecessarily dividing our Music Department into two smaller entities – music performance and music education - that cannot stand alone for many reasons, and ignoring another option for restructuring that would have left our department unified and effective, with self-determination and decision-making retained. It takes the extra step of combining music education with Art Education, a move that has no basis in precedent, pedagogy, or reality of outcomes. 

In researching this issue over many months I and my university faculty colleagues have spoken with experts in education, university policies and strategies, music teaching and learning, music and music education programs, legal analysts, university chancellors, provosts, and faculty, university accreditation organizations, and union representatives across the country. Each source has related to us that such a division and pasting with another unrelated department is unheard of, will likely be unsuccessful, and will be the death-knell for our Music Department. 

These professionals who have experience in this field also tell me unanimously that this type of administration process has a hidden agenda that is based on the same anti-educational bottom-line mentality: putting ‘cost effectiveness’ over a commitment to students and the faculty who are here to serve them. In fact, it is the case that there are corporations that give strategy to university administrations across the U. S. on how to effectively push this agenda through. 

Our Music Department faculty come to campus to share our music and culture with students. We are not simply employees, we are teachers (and learners); students are not ‘consumers’, they are learners (and teachers, since in many senses we all learn together). Education is a journey of self-discovery that never ends, becoming aware of the world and its peoples, history, and diversity, so that we may contribute as critical and creative thinkers to our American society and the world. Our Music Department ensembles give freely without asking for any compensation, both on and off campus, and are known for bringing much-needed uplift and spirit to our community, through the agency of our classical music students, small and large Jazz ensembles, Steel Pan group, Laptop ensemble, Javanese Gamelan, and African music and dance ensembles. These last two are led by guest master artists and make our university unique among similar-sized and supported schools of higher learning. 


Our music curriculum is unique, including master artists from African and Asia and mandates, in addition to Western Classical Music, a full year of Music Technology, African American Traditions (jazz, blues, funk, gospel, among others), and world music. No other music department in the country has this global 21st Century vision and process for all majors. 


This curriculum is a major reason for the success of our programs, as evidenced by having the highest current class enrollment numbers in the college, 745 (majors and non-majors for Spring 2017), the most disciplinary and culturally diverse offerings in the entire UMass system, and a 100% placement rate for our music education graduates over the last few years (and over 90% rate for the preceding decade). Our global and performance-based curriculum allows our graduates to succeed in their careers in performance, composition, and Music education.


A division of our Music Department into two entities creates dangerous vulnerabilities including accreditation, loss of potential student admission, potential funding support, keeping our curriculum for students, and successful student outcomes after graduation. The ultimate result of such unnecessary division and unwanted pasting with another unrelated department will be elimination of programs for students and closure of the department. A consequence of this would also be layoffs of music faculty and no music options for students.


Our music faculty and students are willing to work with administration in collaborative classes and programs, but our department must remain unified so we can share the beauty of music of the world’s peoples with our students in the deepest way, one that will change their lives, and enable them to attain the self-discovery and personal growth that is necessary for them to live fulfilled lives.


Please help us keep our integrity by signing your name and helping our cause for our students.

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