Auckland University to cut professors from music department

Students and staff at Auckland University are in shock after a proposal that threatens the jobs of five highly valued lecturers at the School of Music.

Head of School, Martin Rummel, and Dean of Arts, Diane Brand, are behind the proposed changes.

The restructuring comes as part of a 2016 curriculum review that resulted in proposed changes to the current degree structure. Those involved with the School of Music assumed staffing would not change.

UOA School of Music / ARCHDAILY

A restructure would see two new professors in music education and musicology in a drive to boost research funding and make the music school more relevant to the career that most of its students go into, teaching.

It also says the music school “must embrace and include the musical heritage of the school’s entire student population” and recommends “giving priority to appointments with strong engagement with Māori and/or Pasifika communities.”

The five targeted staff include one of the school’s two professors, Professor Uwe Grodd, who has performed internationally for more than 30 years.

Professor Uwe Grodd / CHARLES BROOKES

On Grodd’s position as a professor specialising in flute performance, the university said, “neither current, past or proposed student numbers (particularly at the postgraduate level) nor international practice justify a fulltime research-active position with this specialisation.”

Teaching could be delivered in co-operation with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

RNZ reports the School of Music has been operating in a financial deficit for the past seven years, with falling student numbers in some areas of classical performance and higher demand in others like pop, jazz and music technology.

But faculty members said there was no consultation with staff and they were shocked when the proposal was made in March.

We were totally broadsided.

Those opposed to the proposal claim a concerned alumni group attracted over 500 members in the first 24 hours after the announcement was made.

Anti-restructure campaigners argue that students often study alongside specific teachers at tertiary level, not with programmes.

UOA Music Head of School Martin Rummel / INSTAGRAM

Over 25 students are expected to lose teachers partway through their degrees if the proposal goes through.

Faculty representatives told TADS that post-graduate enrolments will fall, as four of those qualified to supervise Masters and Doctoral candidates will no longer be at the University.

Consequences will be enormous.

Submissions are due by April 16th as both Martin Rummel and the UOA School of Music are not commenting, according to university policy, before the consultation period finishes.

Students have been advised that their submissions will not be considered.