A senior faculty member of Manhattan School of Music has hit back at the ANU for naming her institution in defending proposed changes to the School of Music in Canberra.
Marjorie Merryman vice president for Academics and Performance at the celebrated academy in New York has written to her school’s staff to assure them “that MSM played no role in the restructuring plan at ANU, and does not support it. The University is using our name without our permission and over our expressed objections”.
ANU Vice-Chancellor Prof Ian Young, said in his media announcement on May 3, that the proposed “revitalised program” would feature “real-time, video-linked lessons and sessions with the support of the Manhattan School of Music”.
Prof Merryman wrote to staff: “MSM has had a positive and mutually supportive relationship with the School of Music at ANU, in which we have provided Distance Learning content (mostly at the K-12 level) and college-level master classes. Recently (and unknown to us) ANU has decided to cut faculty in an attempt to restructure and save money.”
She said she had learnt of this restructuring after reading the May 3 email, and had immediately written to Prof Young saying:
“We have had no knowledge of any restructuring at ANU; it was never discussed with us.
“We do not agree with their idea as an educational model; we support one-on-one live studio teaching.
“Educationally and philosophically, we could not endorse ANU’s new model for college-level music study.
“We have no arrangement with ANU to provide the services they describe.
“We strongly object to being associated with a plan that would eliminate faculty positions.
“ We strongly object to our name being used or to any implication that we endorse this restructuring.”
Prof Merryman said she had received “reassurances from Prof Young that their name had not been used (which was untrue)” and that she had been “dismayed” to see that in a subsequent publicly released news story, the school was still cited as supporting the restructuring.
Prof Merryman concluded: “We are truly dismayed to be cited as partners in such a decision or supporters of such an action. We support our colleagues at ANU and the students there who deserve a first-rate education, provided by an on-site, professional faculty.”
Following notification of her letter, student reps in the “Save the School of Music” campaign added that, contrary to recent media releases, the number of staff being sacked was not 10, but 32. “All 32 staff will be made redundant, and then 12 take their place, however all current staff are specialists in their fields, and VC Ian Young wants teachers who know a little bit about a lot, not a lot about a little bit,” the statement read.
The public consultation period has now concluded but Prof Young will meet School of Music staff on Tuesday morning.