Music Department may see major cuts

The Music Department may experience drastic changes to its course offerings and faculty roster if officials finalize a proposal to cut academic affairs funding to help balance next year’s budget.

Outgoing Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean William Frawley’s proposal includes cuts to the number of CCAS part-time faculty and the number of part-time professors teaching beginner applied music instruction, said William Griffith, chair of the Faculty Senate’s Fiscal Planning and Budgeting Committee and chair of the Philosophy Department.

“Frawley’s argument is that the University is not in the business of music instruction, and obviously the Music Department does not agree,” Griffith said.

The University shared its proposed budget with the Faculty Senate earlier this month. The Senate, in response, submitted its own proposal that calls for no cuts in academic expenses. Administrators are trying to figure out how to close an $8.2 million dollar gap between expenses and revenue the University faces for fiscal year 2007, which begins July 1.

Frawley wrote in an e-mail last week that under the administration’s budget proposal, “support for full-time faculty activities, such as new faculty hires and research support, would experience the vast majority of the pullbacks” if academic cuts were approved.

Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz told The Hatchet that he is not sure what size cut the University might make to its current budget for academic expenses, but said some academic cuts are being considered. The University’s total operating budget is about $360 million, excluding the Medical Center, Law School, sponsored research and auxiliary enterprises. The Academic Affairs budget is approximately 55 percent of the $360 million – about $195 million.

“The goal of the institution is to offer the right kinds of courses students need to graduate, and generally we go in the right direction with this,” Katz said.

No definitive cuts to academics or music have been announced so far, but some students are already feeling the effects of the considered cuts. Students who are not music majors, minors or presidential arts scholars have been unable to register for the Music Department’s beginner classes and private instruction classes. A final decision on full Music Department registration is pending the University’s final budget proposal, which Katz said is set to be submitted to the Board of Trustees in one to two weeks.

“It’s very disappointing that class piano may not be taught, since especially for beginners, it’s something they will have forever,” said adjunct music instructor Barbro Dahlman, who coordinates instruction in keyboard, among other instruments.

Dahlman said she does not believe it is fair for students currently enrolled in piano expecting the class to fulfill a general curriculum requirement to find out now that they are barred from continuing their instruction.

“Students who have taken one of three required fine arts credits in piano or other instruments should be given an alternative,” Dahlman said.

Sophomore Kate Guesman said she received an e-mail March 30 explaining that an update about registration for private music instruction would be postponed until May 1.

“I’ve been taking voice lessons since I was 7 years old, and I came to GW expecting to be able to study voice no matter what,” Guesman said. “Someone telling me that all of a sudden I can’t is a huge problem.”

Katz has said in the past that the reason for the budget gap is that GW has stopped increasing enrollment and has approved the lowest percentage tuition increase in two decades – even though GW has the highest tuition in the country for a school of its kind. Tuition serves as GW’s primary source of revenue.

-Gabriel Okolski contributed to this report.

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