‘A serious state of disrepair’

Hugh A. Glauser School of Music students petition administration for facility improvements

We+need+to+we+need+to+see+the+university+take+this+seriously%2C+we+need+to+see+them+respond+to+this+and+we+need+to+we+need+to+have+this+turned+into+a+bigger+conversation.+-+Alex+McPherson.

Grace Springer

“We need to we need to see the university take this seriously, we need to see them respond to this and we need to we need to have this turned into a bigger conversation.” – Alex McPherson.

Students from the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music are submitting a petition to Kent State Executive Administration Monday demanding they address problems with facilities and requesting transparency with how tuition money is spent.

Alex McPherson, a music education major and the main writer of the School of Music petition, said the Center for the Performing Arts is in disrepair and the facility is hindering students’ education.

McPherson, along with other students from the School of Music, are calling on Kent administration to do maintenance on the building in a variety of areas.

Their frustration began when the university announced they would no longer be covering the cost of hiring pianists or accompanists for music recitals. The cost will instead need to come out of students’ own pockets.

McPherson said the change sparked the students to start talking about how their tuition money is being spent. They decided to petition the administration on a list of grievances, including more transparency in the spending of tuition money.

Tim Culver, interim director of the School of Music, said he was unable to respond to students’ concerns before seeing the full petition. He said there are plans for renovations at the Center for the Performing Arts, but they are not yet formalized.

The student petition singles out several issues at the Center for the Performing Arts, including out of date technology in many of the classrooms.

Josh Weikert, a sophomore music education major, shared a story from one of his classes earlier this school year.

“One of our professors … walked in and one of the projectors wasn’t working, so they had to call maintenance. They came over there to look at it, and the dude was in awe and disgust about how old this projector was and they don’t have the right tools to work on it because how out of date it is,” Weikert said. “And to replace it we took a projector that another department threw away for being too old.”

The Center for the Performing Arts saw its last renovation in 2018. During this project, the Speech Pathology and Audiology wing had an addition and renovation. The theater and dance portion of the building was also renovated recently after a large donation in 2006; the project was completed in 2010. The only other renovations the building has seen recently were minor accessibility improvements in 2017.

“Definitely not to trash any other departments that use the building, good for them that they’ve gotten the funding to do this,” McPherson said. “It’s just very frustrating to see it so close to us and not getting it for ourselves.”

Threads on the “A Transformed KSU” community voice archive from 2017 suggest the current students’ concerns are shared by the Kent State community.

One user wrote, “The Hugh A. Glauser School of Music in the Center for Performing Arts is in strong need of renovation or new construction. Additional space is needed for the growing population of students and there are environmental health concerns about the building … This area of the building looks particularly poor given the renovations of the other areas of the building that underwent major renovations and is in worse condition than many high schools from which students are visiting.”

According to Kent State Enrollment numbers, enrollment in the College of the Arts has trended down for undergraduate and graduate students in recent semesters.

One scheduled improvement the School of Music will see in the coming years is the capital project for a new marching band facility which will be converted from a portion of the ice arena. Kent State President Todd Diacon pledged his own money to match gifts toward the facility in November.

This project will provide new spaces for the students, particular those in marching band, but it does little to address the other problems in the petition according to Weikert.

“It’s obvious Todd Diacon is more favorable towards the music program that other previous presidents, and it’s nice that we’re getting a new marching band facility,” Weikert said. “But there were also plans for it to be a huge percussion area storage room, and they were going to build a huge stage. It ended getting cut because it cost too much, but if we would have done that we would have had a recital hall that could actually fit our large ensemble instead of having to rent out a theater hall.”

The students’ petition will be the first step in a long process to get a renovation project off the ground. According to University Architect Jay Graham, project requests must go through leadership of the departments before reaching his office.

“We have a project request form, and that is a document really that helps secure the funding, and so it would go first through your leadership,” he said. “So it can be originated by anyone of any level, but it needs then to move through the leadership of your group, your division, all the way up to the vice president of your division,”

There are several construction and renovation projects currently underway on the Kent State campus, including the Rockwell Hall renovation and the College of Aeronautics and Engineering addition on which the board of trustees voted to expand the budgets of at their meeting Wednesday.

The university is also in progress of constructing the new business building, Crawford Hall, which had an initial budget approved at $74 million and was recently increased by $9.5 million.

James Halmasy, a managerial marketing student, said the construction is the main topic students and faculty of the business school have been talking about.

“On our orientation day, the dean of business … showed us the very first pictures that they have of the building and it’s really modern, and it’s really a nice, there’s a lot of windows so it allows a lot of sunlight to get in and I feel like that’s a good learning environment,” he said.

Compared to the old building, which Halmasy described as dark, gloomy and inaccessible, the new Crawford Hall will be a big improvement for business students.

Graham said the university is continuously updating facilities, so the biggest obstacle for the School of Music students will be securing funding.

For now, the students are holding out hope that their work will make a difference.

“I want to say I’m hopeful that this will happen considering how much Todd Diacon likes the marching band … and he’s willing to help out this program,” Weikert said. “It’s just that we need to kind of show to him that, ‘Hey, it’s not just the marching band that you see on TV.’ There’s more to the School of Music, and the School of Music is severely underdeveloped.”

McPherson agreed and added that it is in the university’s interest to invest in the School of Music.

“The School of Music can be an excellent recruitment tool for the university as a whole, but we can’t market this to anybody, how could you?” he said. “You look up and ceiling tiles are missing.”

The students will be submitting their petition to the desks of Tim Culver, director of the School of Music, Diane Petrella, dean of the College of the Arts and Melody Tankersley, provost.