Butler School of Music removes programs in response to budget cuts

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Music production senior Kelsey Harper records a trombone track for her recording class. The Butler School of Music cut the music recording technology and business programs because of budget cuts.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

The Butler School of Music is discontinuing its music recording technology and music business programs because of University-mandated budget cuts to the school and a deficit in the school’s budget.

Butler School director Mary Poole could not disclose the exact amount of the budget cut or deficit, but called the financial circumstances of the Butler School “dire” in an email sent to students in the programs on Nov. 21. According to Poole’s email, faculty members were not involved in the decision to stop admission to the programs.

“It was a painful decision indeed to suspend admission to the music business and recording technology emphases within the music [bachelor of arts degree], and I am acutely aware that it must seem ironic,” Poole said. “I very much hope that one day soon, UT will be able to support programs exploring all aspects of the music industry with the facilities and resources our brilliant students deserve.”  

The programs, which Poole said have about 60 students enrolled in them, instruct students in the production and business aspects of the music industry and focus on areas outside of classical music.

“I think that ours holds a lot of merit, in that it’s extremely useful in mainstream jobs that are related to music, because it’s not solely focused on classical music or preforming it,” music production senior Kelsey Harper said. “It’s more of the industrial side of things.”

The programs will continue as normal, until students currently enrolled in the programs have graduated, according to Ed Fair, music business adjunct professor and music attorney.

“In the short-term, those who are in the program will certainly be fine,” Fair said.  

Music production senior Andrew Schindler said he wishes the decision had been discussed with students prior to it being made.

“There’s never been any sort of connection between the administration at the Butler School and the students,” Schindler said.  “As far as who to blame, there’s not anyone to blame. It’s more of a situation where students are pretty apathetic about the school because they’re just there to study their instrument.”

Fair said he is disappointed to see the program go.

“I’m especially sad for students who are in the program and have recently gotten out of the program,” Fair said. “Because it’s a little uncomfortable that the program you’ve just completed no longer exists.”

Harper shared this concern and said she and her classmates are worried the degree will decrease in merit and be less marketable for jobs now that it is being discontinued.

Schindler said he thinks the Butler School of Music is trying to be more like a traditional music conservatory.

“To be a prosperous musician, you have to understand business and how to record music,” Schindler said. “The fact that they are closing those two programs, I feel you’re disenfranchising a lot of students.”

In an email, music production senior lecturer Gary Powell said he would like to see the Butler School look at areas like music business and production again in the future.

“The Butler School has made a decision in line with its academic pursuits,” Powell said. “My hope is that, in time, in a different economy, and even with the same leadership, we will see these pursuits broaden.”