Commuting to class can be one of the many challenges students face every day. For Monica Garza, this would be more of a hassle if UTRGV were to move its music program to the Edinburg campus.
Garza was among the more than 60 students and faculty who attended a College of Fine Arts meeting last month to talk about students’ concerns, including a rumor that the program was moving to the Edinburg campus.
“I asked the question of, ‘What if I live in Matamoros and I have to go to Edinburg to take my classes?’” the music sophomore said. “what if my classes start at 9:25 or 8 a.m.? At what time do you think I’m going to get up to go the bridge and cross on bike and then go to the bus station?’”
Steven Block, dean of the College of Fine Arts, and Kurt Martinez, interim director of the School of Music, listened to the concerns of faculty and students. The program is composed of 420 students, 160 in Brownsville and 260 in Edinburg.
“The meeting came about because there were several students, and maybe faculty also, that for some reason or another, they felt like the music in the Brownsville campus was not going to exist anymore, but that is the furthest thing from the truth,” Martinez said.
Among those in the meeting was music Professor Michael Quantz from the Brownsville campus.
“I know, for a fact, that [UTRGV Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs] Havidán Rodríguez has stated that the music program is not being moved to the Edinburg campus,” Quantz said.
Rodríguez provided the The Rider with a copy of the memo he sent to the music faculty and staff on May 13.
“Please rest assured, no one is doing anything to ‘dismantle’ the UTRGV Brownsville Campus music program, quite the contrary,” the provost wrote in the memo. “We are actually working to build and strengthen our music programs, across the Rio Grande Valley, including in Brownsville.”
The School of Music will be housed in the new 102,551-square-foot, $54 million Academic Building under construction in Brownsville, according to a universitynews release.
“The building was designed with extensive feedback from the music faculty, and it speaks highly of our strong commitment to the music program on the Brownsville campus,” Rodríguez wrote in the memo.
Although the program will stay in Brownsville, there will be a change. Instead of an orchestra on each campus, there will be only one, Martinez said.
“We’re going to create a premiere ensemble … because what we’re doing is we’re pulling the resources of both campuses. We’re getting the best students from Edinburg and the best students from Brownsville.”
For students who do not make it into this ensemble or do not want to be part of it, there will be secondary orchestras on a minor scale for each campus, Martinez said.
Music junior Iliana Zendejas also attended the meeting and said the classes she needs to graduate were not being offered in Brownsville.
“A lot of the classes that I needed were only being offered in Edinburg or they were just not being offered at all,” Zendejas said. “I have two jobs down here. … There’s literally, like, no travel time for me. Like, I barely have time to do my homework. ”
Asked about Zendejas’ concern, Martinez replied: “There’s a lot of issues at the Registrar’s, so like, we submit all of the classes we want on both campuses to be put up in the system for next fall. … What I tell students is, ‘If there is a class you need and it’s not not up, it will be up.’ We’ll figure out some kind of solution.”
The School of Music also has five faculty vacancies, which was another concern presented in the meeting. The faculty vacancies are in vocal (two), violin, flute and music theory. The provost will make the final decision in the faculty hiring and needs for the School of Music, Dean Block said.
In his email to The Rider, Rodríguez wrote: “We are currently in the review process and will make final determinations within the next week or so.”
Block said to solve any future issues students might have within the school he hopes to create a student council that can represent them among their campuses and can communicate with administration.
“The students’ voices should be heard,” he said. “They will have student representatives they can go to. … I would encourage everybody to be open to a process, that nothing has been determined other than the fact that we have to start discussing things and planning together as one School of Music.”