FSEC unit reports on music issue

News Services Associate Editor

The Academic Planning Committee of the Faculty Senate has no objection to a proposal by the Department of Music to drop the bachelor's-degree program in music education, as long as students currently in the program or being recruited to the program are allowed to complete current degree requirements.

In addition, the committee said in a prepared statement, faculty in the department should "determine the date on which student recruitment to the degree program in music education as currently constituted will cease."

The committee's report was presented to the senate's executive committee Nov. 5 by Claude Welch, Jr., SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Political Science and chair of the Academic Planning Committee.

Members of the committee, Welch said, believe "that substantive, discipline-based issues need to be decided by the affected faculty," and that "extended discussion" of the issue, as well as some planning, have occurred within the music department. Faculty in the department had approved the proposal in September by a vote of 15-2, with three abstentions.

The Academic Planning Committee had been asked by the FSEC to report by Nov. 1 on whether proper procedures were followed when music department faculty members voted earlier this year to drop the bachelor's-degree program in music education. Undergraduates who want to pursue careers as music teachers would earn a bachelor of arts degree in music and be certified in music education through the Graduate School of Education.

The issue has been a divisive one within the department, with music educators from outside the university weighing in on the issue, many through opinion pieces published in The Buffalo News.

At the Nov. 5 executive committee meeting, James Faran, associate professor of mathematics, said that while he believed for the most part that a discipline-based issue should be decided by the affected faculty, he can envision cases in which, during the hiring process, a department might gradually become overpopulated with faculty whose specialty is in one particular subfield.

"And they've decided that 'Yes, that's the way their department ought to go; we're all category theorists, so the math department ought to be all category theorists. We're Jungian psychologists, so the psychology department ought to be all Jungian psychologists,'" Faran said. "The question is, should there be someone stepping in, some administrator, if such a thing should happen?"

Welch said there were several checks to keep programs from becoming overloaded in one particular area, including regular, effective means of program evaluation involving outside evaluators and pressure from colleagues within the institution to maintain well-balanced programs.

Herbert Schuel, professor of anatomical sciences, stressed that the responsibility for academic programs rests with the faculty. "We cannot ignore the attitudes or perceptions of the community," he added, calling the music-education issue "a lose-lose situation because of the way it has played out...because of the way it has been perceived by people on the outside."

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