School of Music name change frustrates some students

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In accordance with the DePauw Bold & Gold 2027 Strategic Plan, the DePauw School of Music will be renamed the "Division of Music" within the Creative School, as outlined in President Dr. Lori White's March 16 email announcement.

According to the email, “With the launch of the Creative School in 2024, the School of Music (SoM) will become the Division of Music, retaining all of its current majors and minors, extensive performance opportunities and accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music.”

The email said that future music students will be able to combine their musicianship with different options within the School’s creative, performing, and media arts. 

In response to student pushback, on April 19, another email from Annie Weltz, Administrative Executive Assistant, was sent to SoM students offering a survey for input. Results were released April 25.

Dr. Eliza Brown, professor of music theory and composition, who was also the curricular coordinator for the 21st Century Musician Initiative (21 CM) last academic year, said that most SoM faculty did not have input in the plan.

“I think different folks might have different perceptions of whether there were enough opportunities for input or not,” Brown said. 

Brown said that she absolutely believes that DePauw will have a great music program because nothing about the education currently offered is going to change, and the same majors and minors will still be available with the same professors teaching. 

“I see this as an exciting opportunity for new curricular directions, both in the short term and the long term. That will give music students more opportunities to pursue creative work and to collaborate with folks from other disciplines while maintaining the things that are already good about what we do,” Brown said. 

Paige Burgess, first year clarinet major, said that before choosing DePauw they had no idea that the SoM would become a division within the Creative School. 

“I don’t think anybody’s worried about what it’s going to do to their classes,” they said. “Obviously, they want to keep us here. They want to keep us in it.”

Burgess said that they feel as though the faculty has been listening to students' concerns about the name of the program, but they can’t do anything about it because the President’s advisors have directed them toward this name change. 

“The name change for me is more of a respect thing. There’s the Peeler Art Center, which is very straightforward, but that means that The Creative School feels very diminishing of what we do,” they said. 

Burgess said that The Creative School also makes it sound as though there is no creativity within other schools, despite its importance throughout a liberal arts education. 

“A computer science major might not be doing as much music, but saying that a computer science major isn’t doing anything creative, what does that mean?” Burgess said. 

Scott Spiegelberg, the dean of academic programming, said that the new Creative Division will allow DePauw to offer more interdisciplinary courses, and for some students, that will help them progress towards their goals. Some other music students may want to keep with a more traditional music track, and they will still be able to do that. 

I would say the faculty are very on board and excited about it. I know that some of the students are concerned,” Spiegelberg said, acknowledging that first years and sophomores especially are impacted by the name change.

He said that the SoM has already had a couple of open meetings with students, and that they are planning on having more open meetings so that faculty can listen to their concerns and talk more in depth about the vision for the programs. 

“I would say that anytime there's changes, there's going to be concerns. I remember the Green Center for the Performing Arts used to be called the Performing Arts Center before it was completely redesigned in 2007. There were people that were very concerned, since [it had] always been the PAC. So now, everybody has no problems with calling it the Green Center, or GCPA,” Spiegelberg said. 

He said that the name of the school doesn’t matter, it's how well students play in the audition, and the strength of their portfolios. The quality of education is most important, which matters much more than the name of the program. 

“As the school opens, there'll be a few people that are unhappy, but eventually it'll just be like, ‘it's always been this way’,” Spiegelberg said.

Riley Clark, junior music performance major who served on Dr. White’s Strategic Planning Committee as the SoM’s student representative and Dean Hoke’s Advisory Board, said, “I feel like the name ‘Creative School’ is extremely insulting. Dr. White and her team have spent a lot of time and effort considering everything that has gone into the Strategic Plan, [and] I wish they could have spent the same amount of time and consideration on the name of the third school.”

Clark said that she suggested the name of The School of Physical, Performing, and Collaborative arts, since it encapsulates DePauw’s legacy of innovation and creativity, unlike the name that Dr. White’s team has chosen. 

“I have voiced my concerns to Dr. White, VP Alan Hill, and Dean Hoke and I have not been heard, students deserve to have a better line of communication with their highest administrators,” Clark said.