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Music student soured with YSU leadership

DEAR EDITOR:

I am Miya DeBolt, a Youngstown State University honors college freshman flutist from Cleveland.

I came to YSU expecting an uninterrupted education at Dana School of Music. Boasting the top music professors in the country and hearing hype about the university from my high school band director, I felt excited about YSU. The recent “Voluntary Separations Retirement Program,” cutting 40% of full-time music faculty, jeopardizes the quality of education and has also inflicted a significant emotional toll on students and faculty.

The cuts, presented as voluntary, forced faculty to apply for VSRP (with 80% of salary for a year) or risk retrenchment without severance. Such forced separations undermine the basis of our education.

Typically, most students practice between two and five hours a day. One usually hones in on one or two specific techniques, such as tuning in these sessions. Students go into lessons knowing notes and rhythms, inside and out, to work on fine-tuning the piece’s details. Our professors help us achieve our goal of sharing the fantastic universal language of music with all. Music theory and history studies, core classes for music students, help musicians interpret the printed scores.

As with other professions, networking is also highly valuable for musicians. Losing highly skilled and dedicated faculty diminishes well-rounded academics and lessens professional development opportunities.

Faculty cuts have significantly disrupted the atmosphere at Dana School of Music. Our esteemed faculty emotionally supports their students, building lifelong relationships. This gave Dana School of Music an edge over other music schools. Losing these connections has essentially orphaned us, destroying school spirit and a sense of belonging at YSU. These decisions made at top administration levels left stakeholders in the dark. This announcement was hoisted on our shoulders mid-school year while we were still expected to focus on jobs, classes, homework, tests and performances. Faculty were notified about the cuts on a random Tuesday in February during their tenure. Disenchanted students were told the buyouts were “very successful,” further widening the chasm between the administration and the community.

Current YSU tenured faculty who accepted VSRP include three of nine in Art, seven of 20 at Dana School of Music (and one lecturer contract not renewed), one of one in Fashion Merchandise, and one of four in Geography.

Unfortunately, these cuts have caused distrust in YSU’s administration, drawing fewer new students. Some current students are also considering transfer opportunities. Access to the most updated information can be found at www.save-dana.com.

Miya DeBolt

Cleveland

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