Though I am delighted that the University of Nebraska - Lincoln has decided to retain the organ program and my wonderful teacher and friend Chris Marks, the entire process of budget cuts has left me quite disturbed. I know that I like to talk about the medieval curriculum and tease my friends that their specific disciplines were not in the trivium or the quadrivium. I know that Universities have to change as knowledge expands. What I'm not sure about is whether or not the large State Universities are even really Universities anymore in the old sense of the word. They are certainly not the monastic institutions where people give up their lives to the study of the Western canon. The humanities and the arts were the target of many of the budget cuts. PGA golf management (and, yes, that is a real "major") was not. Presumably, this is because it can create enough money for itself to justify its existence. I was reading an alumni magazine earlier today from one of my Alma Maters where a new dean was justifying the humanities by saying how many CEOs had a humanities background. I guess my point is that, originally the idea of the University was that the arts and the humanities were worth studying in and of themselves. Knowing about them made life better than if you didn't know about them. Being educated was something that was a value and a privilege and helped to make life more worth living - no matter what your occupation was after you finished. For quite a few years now, I have noticed that many students have viewed education as a means to a financial end instead of an intrinsic value. What disturbed me about the budget cutting process at UNL is that it seems like Chancellor Perlman is doing the same thing. The University as corporation will always have to ask areas of study to justify themselves financially. If that is the model, the arts and the humanities will never win the fight.
Labels: Chancellor Perlman, Chris Marks, organist, university as corporation