Part-time applied music professors said they are baffled by what the University is calling a miscommunication between the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences and the music department that led many professors to believe their salaries would be cut until just hours before classes began.
The Washington Post first reported the budget cuts Aug. 20. The article caused concern among faculty members in the department.
The budget for part-time faculty salaries in applied music has been reduced by eight percent, or $75,000, effective this fall, read a music department newsletter, according the Washington Post. Applied music professors give individual and group lessons and do not teach in the classroom.
The newsletter was distributed among the faculty of the music department in August. It is written by Roy Guenther, chair of the music department.
Professors in the music department who were contacted about the newsletter said they had received it; however secretaries in the music department said they do not have any remaining copies and The Hatchet was unable to obtain a copy.
The cuts would have reduced applied music professors’ yearly salaries $1,000-$2,000 while professors would be expected to do the same amount of work, said Myrna Sislen, adjunct associate professor of music.
The University sent a letter to the editor of The Washington Post Friday morning saying no cuts were ever earmarked for the music department, said Lester Lefton, dean of CSAS.
Lefton said the miscommunication occurred when he told Roy Guenther, Music Department chairperson, to hold the line on expenses.
Lefton said he did not mention an eight-percent budget cut to Guenther.
Guenther declined to comment on the incident.
Guenther informed the faculty at a Music Department staff meeting Aug. 27 that Lefton said the cuts would not happen, Sislen said.
As of Sept. 1, CSAS officials had not explained the miscommunication to Music Department faculty.
On the surface it is very simple, but underneath the surface it’s a mystery, said Kip Lornell, an Africana Studies professor who teaches several music courses.
Some professors and students are still wondering what happened.
If they can try to take away $75,000 without anyone saying anything, who’s to say that they won’t (do it again), Sislen said.
It seemed as though (Lefton and Guenther) were going back and forth for a long period (over the budget), Sislen said.
But Lefton said talks relating to funding are not out of the ordinary.
Department chairs and deans talk about budgets all the time, so that’s not unusual, Lefton said. He said there was no talk of salary or budget cuts.
It can only harm the students that are here if they decide that one-on-one applied music is not cost effective and do away with it, Sislen said.
Cuts to the music department budget could lead to a decline in the number of one-on-one music lessons available to students, forcing them to take group lessons, Sislen said.
You can’t do it in groups, Sislen said. Each student responds to the instrument differently.
Some students said they agree.
I probably wouldn’t have (taken group lessons), said Carolyn Herman, a senior who has taken voice lessons since her freshman year. I don’t think you’d get the attention you need to improve. Your individual goals would be compromised.
This is an important part of the fiber of the University, Sislen said. To undermine that is not smart.