The arts push back against cuts

Students protested against program cuts outside Tod Hall on Jan. 10 while the Academic Senate met virtually. Photo by Molly Burke / The Jambar

By Elizabeth Coss

Youngstown State University announced Jan. 7 it will sunset four music degrees in the Dana School of Music this semester, with several other degrees being named for either reorganization or sunsets on Jan. 8. 

The announcements come after fear spread through the Dana School of Music that it would face cuts or retrenchments following an Academic Senate meeting Dec. 6, 2023.

On Jan. 5, a petition to “Save Dana” began circulating, and by the end of the day, cuts were announced and the petition had garnered over 7,000 signatures.

An accompanying webpage, save-dana.com, was also created to outline why the community was afraid of potential sunsets, cuts and retrenchments.

Jan. 10 was a busy day around campus with a protest planned outside Tod Hall against cuts made to programs. Simultaneously, the rally began at the same time the Academic Senate met virtually to discuss what those cuts would officially be and what faculty could expect.

Photo by Molly Burke / The Jambar

Diane Drapcho, a YSU alumni, attended the protest and said the cuts to the Art Department were “appalling issues.”

“You can’t just have STEM programs,” Drapcho said. “When it comes down to money, [artists] are nothing. We are the bottom of the rung and we’re always cut, we’re always cut. I don’t know how it’s ever going to change.”

During the Academic Senate meeting, Ewelina Boczkowska, who is a professor in the Dana School of Music, said the “assault” launched on the arts at YSU fails to fully show how Dana has benefitted the quality of life in the Mahoning Valley. 

“[Dana is] a 150-year-old music school predating the institution, which became YSU. A petition to save Dana has drawn 20,000 signatures in three days — clearly showing that the community values what we do,” Boczkowska said. 

Boczkowska, who is also a senator for the Academic Senate, continued and said false data was used throughout interim provost Jennifer Pintar’s presentation in both faculty and student numbers.

“All Dana faculty were arbitrarily assigned to majors that are different than our appointment letters. I was personally assigned to a major that doesn’t even exist. Every faculty attempt to correct these errors were rejected without any justifications,” Boczkowska said. “If this proceeds, the decisions to cut programs and faculty will have been based on false enrollment and employment data, arbitrary assignments of majors and a misunderstanding of music professions.”

Save-dana.com also states that during the Academic Senate’s December meeting, “Jennifer Pintar gave a presentation to the board of trustees on her ‘Academic Master Plan’ which could be considered the latest salvo in the administration’s War on Music.”

The post also alleges some of Pintar’s data on enrollment numbers were false.

Pintar said her data is from several years worth of research and primarily from the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years. She believes the “Save Dana” initiative is presenting the 2023 14th Day Fall Enrollment Data, explaining the difference in the figures. 

“I get my data from Jeanine Herman in Institutional Research and so you have to remember when that presentation [from the December senate meeting] was originally developed was back in September, October — when we didn’t have the Fall 2023 14th Enrollment Report,” Pintar said. 

Joe Carucci, director for the Dana School of Music, said a lot has been done in terms of refining music programs for years, and that these efforts will continue.

“We’ve been working really hard at Dana already to innovate our curriculum all the way across the board. We’re offering cutting edge programs for our students,” Carrucci said. “I’m optimistic that we’ll find some solutions with this reorganization that will help Dana ultimately continue on a path for innovative curricula and opportunities to serve our students.”

The Jambar attempted to contact a contributor to save-dana.com multiple times and received no response.

Editor’s Note: Molly Burke and Matthew Sotlar contributed to this report.

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