Monthly Archives: March 2009

I’m blown away

This guy is amazing. James Neiley, testifying on March 19, 2009 in Vermont. Maybe the best speech on marriage equality I’ve heard–from perhaps the most self-respecting and articulate 17-year-old one could ever encounter. Listening to him, the Paul Henreid line from Casablanca came to mind: “This time I know our side will win.”

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Filed under being out, gay issues, same-sex marriage, Uncategorized


it’s that time of year when college music teachers, at least those of who teach applied music, are in heavy recruiting mode. Yes, just like athletic coaches.  I’ve just finished an hour and a half or so of calls to the cellists we’ve admitted this year.  We have six majors continuing next year, and I’m hoping that we’ll enroll at least two.  The official target here at DePauw (yes, music schools have enrollment targets) is eight majors, and two would bring us up to that number. (An all-undergraduate program, we are small by design.)

I used to feel very shy about calling–like a salesman.  In recent years, I’ve found I look forward to it.  I really like all the high school seniors we’ve admitted, and each of them would make a fine addition to the cello studio.  I’d love for each of them to enroll, but if all of them did we’d be swamped with cello majors.  I wouldn’t mind that, of course!

Why I look forward to the calls I make to admitted students is because I don’t feel I have to “sell” them anything.  We have a great School of Music, and the question is more if we are the right school for that student.  I want the students to know I am enthusiastic about them and enthusiastic about DePauw.  The rest is up to them.  And it’s, well, fun to talk to these bright and talented young people.

Universities are like airlines who overbook, knowing that not everyone shows up for a flight.  We know we’ll “yield” a certain ratio of students, so we admit more than we actually want to enroll.  How many students actually enroll depends on a variety of circumstances (merit scholarships, need-based financial-aid packages, etc., each student’s sense of fit with the institution, etc.).  This year, the economy is a big factor.  Whle DePauw’s a very expensive private school, but we’re well endowed, have raised tuition by less than originally planned, and continue to give generous merit scholarships.  Sometimes a private school such as DePauw can end up costing less than a state school because of that.

Some years we (and I’m speaking about both the School of Music and the university as a whole) are surprised–fewer students enroll than we had expected, or a lot more do.  To my thinking, too many is better than too few–but the people in housing services don’t always feel that way if they are scrambling to find places for everyone to sleep.

So we’ll see.

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Roger Bourland, music chair at UCLA (how he manages to do that, teach, compose, and regularly blog is beyond me), observes

I’ve sat through a lot of great meetings in the last couple of weeks. Change is thrilling to me, but man, it’s hard to get anything to move quickly in academia.

No kidding!  Where I teach, the School of Music faculty (and I presume the faculty in various College of Liberal Arts departments) were invited by the central administration to put all “non-essential” business on hold to focus on some big-picture issues our new president has put before the entire community.  So of course we needed an extra meeting to discuss what is and isn’t non-essential business, and develop several plans for how to proceed, and then meet again to vote on them, etc.  Turns out there isn’t much non-essential business not to do, anyway.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the campus-wide big-picture issues;  they involve curricular and calendar matters on which there’s been significant division within the faculty for years. Long-standing divisions within a faculty often lead to stalemate.  Can an determined and enthusiastic new president get things to really happen?  I hope so!  But as proposals crytalize, heels may be dug in.

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