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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

FRC: Dont cut music PhD yet

Published: March 4, 2005
Section: News

The FRC recommended against eliminating the PhD program in Music at this time. They noted that the timing of this proposal was significant because the latest changes in Creative Arts at Brandeis, including the reformulation of the Theater Arts Department, may point to a veritable renaissance in the Arts at Brandeis.

Four of the abnormally high 14.5 FTEs in the department are part of the Lydian String Quartet, a musical performance group that has been in residence at Brandeis since the 1980s. The quartet, the FRC notes, was considered as core faculty by Jaffe, even though none of the four hold regular classes.

Their primary task is to perform music at Brandeis in various formal and informal contexts and, when performing and recording away from campus, to enrich Brandeis reputation for excellence in the Arts by being identified as the Universitys quartet in residence, the FRC wrote.

The FRC suggested that Jaffe hire a new staff member when an FTE opens to work with Jaffe to evaluate and implement counter-proposals submitted by the Music department. These were:

1. A decrease in the size of the entering PhD cohort from 6 to 5, by admitting 2 or 3 students in musicology and composition in alternate years (i.e., a reduction of 4 total stipends).

2. A reduction in the graduate requirement for 6 semesters of composition to 4 semesters (the third year being devoted to independent study), freeing up .5 FTE for undergraduate teaching.

3. A drastic reformulation of the undergraduate music major to include tracks in history, composition/theory, performance, and cultural studies.

4. The establishment of a new joint Music and Theater Arts major;

and a possible collaborative major in digital arts with Fine Arts and Theater Arts.

5. A broad plan to diversify the curriculum to include, for example, courses in non-western and popular music, race and ethnicity in music, and music in film.

The FRC recommended for this new position to be renewable or converted into a tenure-track position after a careful review of the success of the specific initiatives proposed by the department. Only at the time of this future review, the FRC recommended, should Jaffe consider a further reduction in the number of PhD stipends.

The FRC also recommend that the Lydians no longer be considered as Music department FTEs. The Lydians are in residence at Brandeis, not in the Music department;

their inclusion as core faculty makes statistical analysis and comparison misleading, the FRC recommended. We urge the administration to explore new funding sources for this treasured resource outside the annual operating budget of Arts and Sciences.