From today’s Warsaw (IN) Times-Union:
Grace Eliminates School Of Music
Times-Union Staff Writer
WINONA LAKE – Grace College announced this morning that it is closing its School of Music effective in May.
The college, however, hopes to continue the Masterworks Festival program.
“It’s a financial decision,” said Grace Provost Dr. William Katip in a telephone interview today.
“Music is the most expensive program at many, many schools across the country,” he said. For a music department to make it, it has to have a rather sizable endowment to make it happen.
With the elimination of the School of Music, Grace is “eliminating the music majors from the more than 50 degree programs the college offers,” according to a press released provided.
Several years ago, Dr. Patrick Kavanaugh came to Grace College with a vision, Katip said. Grace adapted that vision to become the top Christian music school in the country. Over the years, Grace saw an increase in its music department enrollment, but still sustained financial losses every year, Katip said. To have a stable financial plan in place and cover those losses, Grace funded the music department through other means.
But during the past year and a half, Katip said, there’s been enormous economic pressure. Last year, the state cut student financial aid grants by 31 percent. Grace chose to make up the difference to its students. To provide that financial support, and to help a broad array of students, Grace could no longer afford to support the School of Music, Katip said.
Grace College is working on a five-year strategic plan, Katip said. If Grace continued to fund its deficits, it wouldn’t be able to continue on its plan.
“This was our last resort,” said Katip of closing the School of Music. “The economic realities slapped us in the face.”
He said Grace understands what closing the School of Music means. The School of Music has a rich history at the school and is part of the local community.
Five full-time faculty members are losing their positions with the closing of the School of Music, Katip said, including Kavanaugh as dean. One administration staff’s position was moved to another area of the school.
Those affected by the staff reduction will qualify for a severance benefit, additionally receiving outplacement and counseling services for themselves and their families, according to the press release. A tuition benefit for employees and spouses who are currently in a degree program, as well as their dependent children, will continue through spring 2018.
Asked if this meant the end of the Masterworks Festival, Katip said, “We don’t think Masterworks is over. We’re working on keeping Masterworks locally. (Kavanaugh) is very interested in that.”
Kavanaugh is the director of Masterworks.
The press release states Grace College will continue to be the site of the MasterWorks Festival, an intensive month-long experience for high school and college students of music and fine arts, through the summer.
In a telephone interview this morning, Kavanaugh said, “Obviously, we love Grace College and this whole area, so we’d like to stay here forever. A lot of things have to be worked out.”
The Masterworks Festival this summer will be bigger than ever, Kavanaugh said. It’s been in the works for awhile. Kavanaugh said he understands the closing of the School of Music was necessary for financial reasons, but it came as a shock to everyone.
“Obviously,” Kavanaugh said, “(Grace President) Ron Manahan agonized over this. He loves music and he has supported this for years.”
Music is expensive, he said, and in any family sometimes hard decisions have to be made. Kavanaugh said there was no bad blood.
The Symphony of the Lakes Orchestra also will continue if possible, he said. There is a Valentine’s Day concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Rodeheaver Auditorium, Winona Lake.
According to the press release, the 15 current music students who have accumulated more than 86 credit hours as of December will be able to graduate as music majors, while the 22 other students of the program will be encouraged to change majors or transfer to other colleges. Grace administrators are currently working with several other Christian colleges, all accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, to facilitate seamless transitions for any student wishing to transfer.
Katip said Grace has 36 music students this semester. Of the 36, there are about nine or 10 graduating this year. Another five or six will finish up their classes next year. Nineteen or 20 students either will change their majors and finish their degree at Grace, or transfer to another school, Katip said. Two or three music students are double major students and music is their second major. Some students may change majors.
“We’re working closely with these students,” said Katip.
Huntington and Anderson universities already have gotten on board to help Grace music students make a smooth transition if they choose to go to Huntington or Anderson.
Katip said Dr. Pete Gano will handle the transition and coordinate the classes music students need to finish up next year. Gano has been with Grace for 18 years.
“As we continually seek ways to enhance the college’s effectiveness, we realize the need for renewed focus and efficiency. The decision to bring an end to Grace’s music program is a difficult one, but one we feel is best for the future of the college,” said Dr. Ronald Manahan, president of Grace College and Theological Seminary, in the press release.