George Washington university slashes teaching jobs by 5%, music posts by 50%

Jessica Krash has been laid off after 28 years teaching piano at George Washington University. ‘They are decimating the (music) department,’ she tells us, ‘laying off many of the adjuncts, or reducing people’s hours to practically nothing.’

Underpaid and unappreciated, Dr Krash has written a letter to the Washington Post, noting that the George Washington University president and vice president are both earning over $1,000,000 a year. The suits swiftly responded with the usual equivocations. Read Jessica’s letter here. And share this. Music is at risk in the US capital.

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      • Are you constitutionally incapable of admitting a mistake? I don’t know about everyone else, but on my computer, both on the front page and the top of the linked item the headline is entirely in upper case. You have written — not for the first time — a headline that is misleading, as there is such an institution as Washington University in the state of that name. George Washington University in Washington D.C. is usually known as GW.

        I do not know if there is a university in Oxford, Mississippi, but if there was some scandal at it, would you head your story “Oxford fires all its music staff” or whatever?

        You have an international readership that you appear eager to cultivate. Doesn’t that require a little respect fr international institutions? Isn’t the most elemental of politenesses getting names right?

        • *polite cough* Actually, Washington University is in St. Louis. The University of Washington is in Seattle. Just as the University of Miami is in Florida while Miami University is in Ohio.

  • Posted at Mr. Lebrecht’s request from Facebook comments.

    The massive cuts to higher education are killing the quality of education and absolutely killing any desire for musicians to work in academia, particularly in North Carolina where the entire system in under attack. Until recently, the American university system was the refuge for those forms and genres of music that were not commercially attractive in a consumer capitalist system and yet remained culturally vital. It took the place of the state subsidy one sees in Europe and Asia. Now we are being threatened because non-consumer art and music do not satisfy the consumer capitalist criteria. The irony is breath-taking: 30+ years after the end of communism as a viable alternative, Marx’s critique of capitalism becomes painfully evident.

    Right now, I deeply regret I turned down an opportunity in business that would have afforded me the leisure time to compose and promote my career and still earn 6 figures.

    Add to this that I work at an Historical Black University and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors have made it clear that they wish to see such institutions go away. You probably have heard about the bill in the North Carolina legislature to mandate a 4/4 classload. One minor victory at North Carolina Central University is that a survey of UNC system universities gave the average load here a 4.9! So, if there is any direct attack on our productivity, it will be exposed for the blatant racism that it is.

    Lance Hulme

  • Well, I am sorry for those at GWU. That said, there are plenty of good places to study music. Even places that are expanding arts instruction, such as Bard, The New School…there are plenty.

  • My family has a friend’s son attending GWU on a saxophone scholarship, but his heart is to be a judge, not a musician. Fortunately, most of 3 of 4 years of $60K per year tuition were underwritten through his academic and music scholarship at the school.

    For those not used to USA university salaries, many college athletic coaches make more than the university president. Sad indeed.

    I would not go so far as to say that music is at risk in the US capital with this unfortunate decision. If only we had 1/10 of what is on offer in London….things would be much better!

  • I used to tell people that I was proud to have attended GWU, that it was a fine school. Unfortunately, I can’t say that any more.

  • The massive cuts to higher ed. are killing the quality of education and absolutely killing any desire for musicians to work in academia, particularly in North Carolina where the entire system in under attack. Until recently, the American university system was the refuge for those forms and genres of music that were not commercially attractive in a consumer capitalist system and yet remained culturally vital. It took the place of the state subsidy one sees in Europe and Asia. Now we are being threatened because non-consumer art and music do not satisfy the consumer capitalist criteria. The irony is breath-taking: 30+ years after the end of communism as a viable alternative, Marx’s critique of capitalism becomes painfully evident.

    Right now, I deeply regret I turned down an opportunity in business that would have afforded me the leisure time to compose and promote my career and still earn 6 figures.

    Add to this that I work at an Historical Black University and the Board of Governors have made it clear that they wish to see such institutions go away. You probably have heard about the bill in the NC legislature to mandate a 4/4 classload. One minor victory at NCCU is that a survey of UNC system universities gave the average load here a 4.9! So, if there is any direct attack on our productivity, it will be exposed for the blatant racism that it is.

    • Very true. Capitalism is a good system, but if left inadequately regulated it becomes as totalitarian as any other system.

      I live in Germany. Baden-Württemberg has 5 state conservatories. It recently attempted to eliminate 3 of them, but the resistance from the communities where they were located was so strong that the government relented. The government has now imposed a 10% budget reduction on all five schools. Programs are being cancelled, faculty dismissed, and highly qualified students turned away.

      Most people do not know that these cuts in America and Europe are part of a larger movement of “reforms” imposed by neoliberal economic philosophy which advocates small government, privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, and free trade. It was first established by Ronald Reagan and Margret Thatcher, and then spread to the EU.

      A philosophy of reduction in public funding for the arts is part of these reforms.

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