Students concerned about move of theater arts department

As Ithaca College Go ahead With the second phase of the Academic Program Prioritization (APP) process, some members of the campus community are concerned about the impact of moving the Department of Theater Arts – currently housed in the School of Humanities – to the ‘Music School Students.

The first phase of the APP included the elimination of 116 full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty and 26 majors, departments and programs. The second phase will focus on the reorganization and restructuring of different academic areas, including moving the theater department at the School of Music.

The Department of Theater Arts is home to Theater Studies, Acting, Musical Theater, Stage Management, Theater Production and Design, and majors in Theater Arts Management, as well as minors in Dance and Drama. The department was class #1 of 386 colleges and universities in the 2021 edition of the Princeton Review. the school of Humanities and sciences is home to more than 50 major disciplines, including musical theater, drama, politics, economics, chemistry, biology, and writing.

A tan All faculty and staff At a meeting in May 2021, Acting Provost La Jerne Cornish said moving the department would be a good way to explore the relationship between theater arts and music.

Some other colleges and universities with prominent music and theater departments have both departments housed in one school, such as Carnegie Mellon University. College of Fine Arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Elon University College of Arts and Sciences in Elon, North Carolina.

Steve TenEyck, professor and head of the Department of Theater Arts, said the goal is to begin the transition at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. He said the School of Music and Department of Theater Arts will report to the new Dean of the School of Music who has yet to be hired.

The college currently has four acting deans: Jack Powers at the Roy H. Park School of Communications, Alka Bramhandkar at the School of Business, Ivy Walz at the School of Music, and Claire Gleitman at H&S. Gleitman was named acting dean because Melanie Stein assumed the position of acting provost for the academic year. The college has decided not to organize research dean in the 2020-2021 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Acting Deans remain in place for the 2021-2022 season academic year.

TenEyck said a transition committee has been created to work out the details of the new structure.

“The reorganization is exciting for us in youheatre,” TenEyck said via email. “We already have a strong relationship with musable, especially with ohpera & musical youheatre, but this realignment offers potential for more collaboration. Initially, this movement will not have much impact on the dayatdaily life of theater students, faculty and staff, as the move is mainly administrative. As the two units work more closely together, I can imagine more collaboration and synergies emerging.

Sophomore Chloe Beehm gets it bof achelor diploma in music and has a theater outfield. She said that in addition to her requirements for her music degree, she takes 23 course credits in the theater arts program as a whole. She said she was thrilled with the transition and thinks it makes sense.

“I hope there can be some benefits for music school students, because I feel like a lot of us music students are a bit of a theater kid in the soul, but we kind of focused more on the music itself than the acting,” Beehm said. . “But, I think we all have those interests. I hope that with this merger, we can all get an equal chance.

Beehm said she was concerned about the logistics behind the transition because she hasn’t received much information about it. She said she was also concerned about the impact of the addition of students at the music school on current students, particularly in terms of class enrollment.

“I have the feeling that the Sschool of Music works, or how they enroll in classes and the program, if you want this class right now you have to get on it or it will run out,” Beehm said. “And I just wonder how much more competitive it’s going to be with musical theater students. … I just wonder what impact it will have on us, the regular school [of] Music students. That’s the norm for us and now we might have to work around that, so I think that’ll be very interesting. I don’t know how they’re going to fix this. »

Junior Molly Danieli, a production and design major with a concentration in sound design, said she is the sound design concentration student representative on the theater arts department leadership team. She said the team discussed the decision a lot and there was a lot of confusion surrounding the transition.

“We will definitely be under a different dean no matter what, and that definitely changes the way things are handled,” Danieli said. “But in terms of the student perspective, I think a lot of students say, ‘Well, how does that change things? “”

She said she thinks there’s a lot of overlap between the department and the School of Music, especially for sound design students. She said she was personally excited about the prospect as she hopes it will make it easier for her to pursue music-based lessons, but she has mixed feelings about how the decision was announced.

“I think the fact that they’ve given it to us, but what it means is still so hazy, has very mixed signals,” Danieli said. “I feel like maybe there should have been a plan in place before it was made public. … It just causes a lot of unnecessary stress and unnecessary tension that doesn’t need to happen. produce.

Sophomore Becca Blacksten, an acting major, said she felt negatively about the decision to move the Department of Theater Arts. She said she thinks acting majors don’t get as much of a priority as musical theater majors.

Blacksten said she thinks the transition will make it harder for acting majors to take certain classes.

“It doesn’t make it easy for acting majors to take vocal or keyboard lessons because we’re currently not allowed to take most of them,” Blacksten said. “It’s going to make it even harder for acting majors to access the resources that musical theater students have brought to them, and it’s going to make it so much harder for acting majors to learn some of the basic skills they want. have, because the ministry puts them at a disadvantage and takes no responsibility for it.

Junior Naandi Jamison, Acting Major, noted vocal lessons have always been a point of contention for acting majors. She noted some students in the theater program originally applied to the musical theater program, but were not admitted. She said many students in the drama program can sing and want to take voice lessons.

“But because we’re in the acting program, they don’t have the ability to do voice lessons,” Jamison said. “If you want singing lessons, you have to go find a singing teacher and pay for it out of your own pocket. And so many people want [take lessons] because in the professional world, a lot of musicals aren’t dance-heavy. So you can be an actor who’s also just a good singer and be engaged in something really good. So many people think it’s very important as part of their education to be able to sing and to have singing lessons, but it’s not easily accessible to us.

Sophomore Noa Webner, a musical theater student, said she was intrigued by the prospect of the merger, especially for the opportunities that could be offered to students at Dillingham and Whalen. She said she wanted to know if musical theater students will be able to take longer voice lessons.

“I think it’s safe to say at this point that half hour voice lessons can be frustrating at times and having plenty of time to work with our voice teachers each week is an imperative part of our training” , Webner said via email. “Especially considering that most musical theaters B.F.A. programs across the country are able to give their students one-hour classes, putting Ithaca students at a disadvantage.

However, she said she felt the college kept students in the dark about the merger.

“The little we heard about it was at a major performance meeting in Dillingham earlier this semester, where the teachers basically said that some kind of integration between the two schools is coming. would produce in the Fall through 2022 and even they don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like,” Webner said.

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