Music Professors Receive Letters of Retrenchment

By John Reed
SC Staff Writer

The remaining faculty members of the Music Department have received official letters of retrenchment. The retrenchment process for the Music Department faculty, which began at the end of May 2014, will end with the moratorium of the Music Department as a whole in May 2015.

“Students generally don’t come to East Stroudsburg to study music, and they don’t come to major in football. However, just as students come for our football program, students also enroll at East Stroudsburg because of our music program,” said Music Department Chair Dr. Elizabeth Buzzelli-Clarke.

She continued, “Now, all of those students who have come specifically for our music program will go elsewhere. They will go to Bloomsburg or Kutztown where they can actually be a part of a music program and still get the same majors.”

One year ago, the Music Department received letters via Human Resources that the entire department would be put into moratorium that would lead to the ‘teach out’ process it is currently experiencing.

“What’s a school without music?” questioned Dr. Buzzelli-Clarke.

The marching band, concert band, and jazz band will comprise the remaining ensembles. All three bands are under the direction of adjunct professors.

Two out of three adjunct professors are currently employed at local high schools — Pocono Mountain and Delaware Valley — as music teachers. With the adjunct’s schedules, the bands receive instruction once a week. The concert band director can only make it to campus Monday nights to conduct the band, which allows for only a two-hour window for the entire ensemble.

The band was asked to perform at the Veteran’s Day ceremony on campus next week, but they will be without a director because the adjunct professor, being a high school teacher, is unavailable during the day. It might fall to the students to pick up the slack, but it is non-credited work.

The reasoning behind the department’s moratorium involves money, but in actuality one of the bands that the university plans on keeping is the most expensive: the marching band.

The money debate also involves the private lessons the Music Department faculty gives to students. Up until this year, there weren’t many 1-on-1 sessions, but these numbers have increased through 2014. Normally, there is an applied music fee — which other schools have — that offsets the cost of instruction. The Music Department suggested the implementation of this fee, but were turned down.

It is also common for students to pay for their own accompanist, but ESU provides one for them. This cost comes out of the departmental fees. The students never incur a direct cost.

Despite the Music Department’s small faculty size, they provided a lot of class seats. During the academic year of 2013, the GE seats for classes such as Intro to Music and others totaled over 1,100.

Music Department Chair Dr. Buzzelli-Clarke taught a popular music class recently that had a seat cap of 100 students. Last spring, the department was told to begin to “teach out” students and the available class seats have dropped dramatically. For the spring 2014 semester there were 200 possible seats. Now there will zero seats for Gen. Ed. music classes moving forward.

“We’re not going to introduce students to anything,” said Dr. Buzzelli-Clarke.

The Music Department has more community involvement than other departments. Community members play or sing in the concert band, jazz band, concert choir, and orchestra. With the uncertainty surrounding ESU’s bands, many of the community members are joining the Trinity Band — a local organization.

When word of the department’s dissolution was made public, community members took up a letter writing campaign that ended on President Welsh’s desk.

The Music Department has not let the small size of their department deter them. In fact, they have used it to build camaraderie amongst their students. The many hours of practice have served to create a tight bond for students and faculty alike.

“[The Music Department] is a unique situation. In some cases it’s like a family,” said Dr. Buzzelli-Clarke.

Dr. Buzzelli and Dr. James Maroney — the only two remaining Music Department faculty members — were given the list of 15 hirable positions being searched for and were told they will be given priority if they choose to slot into a new department.

Email John at:
jreed18@live.esu.edu

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