Factions within Music Department Stifles Communication, Says National Report

Sam Spokony, Photo Editor

   An independent report published by a nationally-recognized music education organization states that there “appears to be two faculty factions” within SUNY Oneonta’s music department, whose continual opposition may be stifling effective communication regarding policy decisions.

   A copy of the report, written by two representatives of the National Association of Schools of Music (who visited Oneonta on March 5 and 6), was submitted to the State Times by a source close to the department who chose to remain anonymous.

   The creators of the report — Mark Parker of Oklahoma City University and Wes Moore of Dallas Baptist University — go on to write that the apparent factions are likely the result of a change in leadership. Last year, Dr. Orlando Legname replaced long-time music chair Dr. Robert Barstow as the head of the department after a faculty vote. “While lines of communications appear to be open,” the report states, “it appears that communication may not be used to its fullest potential.”

   Although the document also includes the opinion that the department is running at very high efficiency from a purely financial perspective — and that there were “several examples of fine teaching” among the faculty — there are concerns about the department’s ability to sustain itself following the acquisition of $750,000 worth of new equipment and upgrades over the past year. The report concludes that it is “unclear that the institution has sufficient budget to maintain its instruments and equipment.”

   The writers of the report voice additional concerns about the large number of students enrolled in Oneonta’s music industry major compared to the number of available professors within the department. Although they acknowledge that the size of larger music classes is generally balanced out by one-on-one lessons and small ensembles, they conclude that it is “unclear whether the number and distribution of faculty is adequate for an institution of this size and scope.”

   With all this in mind, the report recommends that the “faculty and the music executive undertake a review and discussion of all policies and guidelines — written and otherwise — for evaluation, promotion, tenure, and scholarly/creative activity in light of university and music unit emerging roles and aspirations.”

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