Sunday, September 24

UCLA plans to centralize, grant autonomy to Herb Alpert School of Music


Chair of Musicology Raymond Knapp (left) and Chair of Ethnomusicology Steven Loza (right) are two of the three co-directors that, along with executive director Judith Smith, are helping the Herb Alpert School of Music transition to an independent music school pending University of California approval. (Kristen Payne/Daily Bruin)

Chair of Musicology Raymond Knapp (left) and Chair of Ethnomusicology Steven Loza (right) are two of the three co-directors that, along with executive director Judith Smith, are helping the Herb Alpert School of Music transition to an independent music school pending University of California approval. (Kristen Payne/Daily Bruin)



The original version of this article contained multiple errors. The proposal is final, not preliminary. Also, the proposal was approved by the UCLA Academic Senate's Legislative Assembly, not the University of California Academic Senate.

UCLA plans to centralize the departments of ethnomusicology, musicology and music and grant autonomy to the Herb Alpert School of Music, the university announced Wednesday.

The final proposal, which was initially approved by the UCLA Academic Senate’s Legislative Assembly in June, aims to establish the independent School of Music as the first of its kind in the UC.

UC president Janet Napolitano and the Board of Regents also must approve the proposal before UCLA can finalize the transition process.

The department of musicology is currently within the College of Letters and Science, while the departments of ethnomusicology and music are part of the School of the Arts and Architecture.

If the motion is approved, UCLA’s departments of ethnomusicology, musicology and music will centralize into the separate Herb Alpert School of Music.

Steven Loza, chair of ethnomusicology and co-director for the School of Music, said with the establishment of an independent school of music, UCLA will have three separate arts-oriented schools with independent focuses: the Herb Alpert School of Music, the School of Theater, Film and Television, and the School of the Arts and Architecture.

As the School of Music’s brand becomes more prominent in the music education network, Neal Stulberg, chair of music and co-director for the School of Music, said admission to the music school is likely to become more competitive as he thinks the move will help the school attract accomplished faculty and prospective applicants.

From 2012 to 2014, the department of music granted admission to 20 percent of first-year applicants and 9 percent of doctoral students. Stulberg said this number is expected to drop as more students hear of the school’s improved opportunities for interdepartmental collaboration.

Raymond Knapp, chair of musicology and co-director for the School of Music, said the school’s change-of-major process is also expected to be more streamlined. For example, under the new system, students can change majors from musicology to ethnomusicology without also transferring from the College of Letters and Science to the School of Music, which Knapp said he thinks will reduce stress on students and the administration.

In addition to attracting potential donors and faculty, Stulberg said he thinks granting autonomy to the School of Music will present more opportunities for music students to showcase their studies without competing with events held by the department of humanities or the School of the Arts and Architecture.

After faculty, administrative and student review of the move’s potential benefits and drawbacks, planning for the School of Music’s transition began in 2014. Donor recruitment via the Centennial Campaign strengthened administrative support for the transition, Loza said.

Since July 1, the current chairs of the three departments have been serving as co-directors to ease the School of Music through its transition period. Judith Smith, emerita dean and vice provost for undergraduate education and executive director for the independent School of Music, has been appointed as executive director until a founding dean is recruited.

Implementing ideas in the past among the three departments proved complicated due to different deans and systems, Knapp said.

Knapp said the move seeks to consolidate musical activity on campus under one dean, presenting increased opportunities for faculty and students from the three departments to work together and share ideas.

“Everything’s tidier under the same dean and with the same faculty,” Knapp said. “If (collaborations) are made easier, they’ll happen more often and with more creativity.”

Since its naming in 2007 in honor of performer and philanthropist Herb Alpert’s $30 million donation, the School of Music has not been in a position to establish its autonomy due to limited state funding, Smith said.

Now, because of increased support from donors and the state, the transition will likely be approved by the UC system as soon as mid-2016, Smith said.

“It’s now a good time to separate because the state has begun to invest more money in education and in new enterprises,” Smith said.

Once the School of Music is independent, Stulberg said one of his long-term goals is to plan a School of Music-wide annual festival featuring performances by students and faculty highlighting interdepartmental collaboration and creativity.

“The arts are such an important public face of the university, allowing us to bring outside visitors to campus and showcase the activity of our community,” Stulberg said. “We’ll soon have the capacity to do creative sorts of events that will become a great contribution to campus life.”

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