EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT) The University of Evansville has announced that not only will it retain the Department of Music and all five music degree offerings, it will also create the UE Conservatory. The plan is a collaboration between Department of Music co-chairs, faculty, Friends of UE Music, community partnerships, private donors, trustees, and the administration.

The university will also begin to offer dual enrollment courses in music for high school students and will offer a music therapy clinic and a redesigned summer music camp. Wheeler Concert Hall and Krannert Hall of Art and Music will also be renovated.

The plan will make the Department of Music financially sustainable by reducing operating costs through planned retirements, establishing new revenue streams and focusing on recruiting and retaining new students. Friends of UE Music have also pledged to double their yearly fundraising efforts.

This is part of the current draft academic realignment process to resolve a financial operating deficit and bolster the University’s strengths. UE president Chris Pietruszkiewicz’s proposed academic realignment plan would eliminate three departments, 17 majors, and about 40 jobs.

UE music students told Eyewitness News they were moved by this news.

“Not going to lie, I mean I cried some happy tears because I love it here,” said Rachel Taylor, a music therapy student who’s finishing up her sophomore year. “I didn’t want to leave. I was heartbroken because I didn’t want to have to put in application to other places in case over backup plans.”

When UE President UE President Chris Pietruszkiewicz announced a draft academic realignment plan, which would eliminate the music department by the fall of 2022, Taylor and her peers were trying to find a way to graduate with their degree. Meanwhile, faculty members went to work to save the department.

“We got on phone, email, text right away. Started figuring out what we can do to come up with a plan,” said Ken Steinsultz, co-chair of the UE music department.

“I think the biggest change is that the community outreach that we’ve been doing has been kind of in a patchwork, you know,” said Dennis Malfattis, co-chair of the UE music department. “We have the Suzuki program here, we have individual teachers teaching private lessons there. This puts it all under one umbrella.”

UE administrators say they have received nearly 15 proposals from the other two departments set to be cut by fall of 2022. Some students say they are preparing another protest where they will plead to spare the humanities and engineering programs.

(This story was originally published on February 8, 2021)