Thursday, May 24, 2007

CCM Dean makes quick getaway

It was announced earlier this week that CCM’s dean Doug Lowry has resigned from CCM and will move on to take the helm of dean at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Didn’t he just get here? (He started at CCM in 2000.)

Since I have attended both schools (I earned my BM at Eastman in 1995 and my DMA at CCM in 2004) this is a move that is of some interest to me. I don’t know where Eastman now stands in regards to its financial situation, but it seems to be in better shape than CCM. I know from various sources (as well as through my adjunct experiences there) that UC has implemented budget trimmings in the millions of dollars and how this crisis has affected many of the departments at CCM.

Speculation: Could a reason for leaving be that the dean’s hands are tied with all the cutbacks, and he just simply can’t get done what needs to be done? (From my point of view the dean has generally maintained the status quo and seems most interested in furthering a compositional career.) CCM seems to have been “drifting” recently, lacking any real significant forward momentum into the new century with innovative and refreshing approaches to the training and experiences it provides to students.

On the other hand, Eastman enjoys its wonderful new Institute for Music Leadership (funded by the Mellon Foundation) which promotes “creating, sharing, and implementing cutting-edge ideas and programs that will ensure the vitality and relevance of music in the 21st century.” (source) This is a just a part of the series of new “Eastman Initiatives” which are ensuring Eastman’s role as an international leader in music for years to come. I guess if it were me, I’d rather run the more forward-looking, well-supported institution than the stuck-in-neutral, underfunded one.

If CCM is to ever hold on to its status as a world-class center of relevant musical education and professional training, it needs dedicated leadership and proper funding (especially when it comes to recruiting the best musicians/students). Yes, the problems stem from many different types of circumstances, some of which are out of CCM’s control. But it needs a dean who wants to be here for more than seven years and who has a clear perception for where the school needs to be five, ten, and twenty years from now. Cincinnati’s (and CCM’s) rich musical and historical heritage deserves better than the stagnation of this school. Let’s hope the dean search committee rises to the challenge.

See also Janelle Gelfand's take on Doug Lowry's departure. Classical Music: Reaction to the Dean's announcement