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College issues: Tenure and promotion standards for conductors

Fellow Choralacademe listers,

Recent inquiries on the topic of tenure and promotion have reminded me of my
delinquency in posting this following compilation from all of you several
months ago. My deepest apologies. On the positive side, perhaps this
information will help someone else, too.

Ron

Rowland Blackley, D.M.A.
Director of Choral Activities
Ashland University
Ashland, OH 44805
(419) 289-5114
rblackle@ashland.edu

FEEDBACK FROM CHORALIST REGARDING TENURE AND PROMOTION FOR CONDUCTORS

THE QUESTION POSED:

Dear colleagues,

I would appreciate your input, however brief or long, on the topic of
preparing a tenure/promotion portfolio as a collegiate choral conductor. I
shall attempt to be clear and concise in presenting my problem. Sorry if I'm
not.

As is typical in higher education, we are evaluated in these three broad
areas: teaching, service (to the profession and to the university) and
scholarship/creative activity. Teaching and service are not so troublesome.
A difficulty arises in the last category, however.

While many of us in choral conducting certainly have professional publications
to our credit and make presentations at professional conferences, we are not
usually judged by the same standards as musicologists and music education
professors in these areas. Some of you may be, so this entire discussion may
not apply to you. However, since conductors are applied music faculty in
most places, we are more often judged by those types of standards and
situations.

I realize that many of you have ensembles that perform more or less frequently
at professional conferences, and this "counts" in your P&T portfolio. For
those of us in smaller schools, however, that tends to be less frequently.

My applied instrumental colleagues have a schedule of solo and ensemble
concerts each year, plus they hold positions in regional orchestras. For
them, this "counts" as creative activity since it's professional: they are
doing their thing with their instrument, so to speak. Voice faculty have
similar opportunities. What would be a comparable activity for the typical
collegiate choral conductor? Some of my colleagues do not feel that anything
I conduct with a university
ensemble can count as creative activity because it's my job: nothing above
the requirements of the contract. It makes some sense, but I'm not sure I can
agree with it 100%.

I am a good organist and a decent pianist, so I've managed to acquire some
recital activity and professional chamber playing opportunities, which will
likely "count." Yet, it's not really in the specific field of choral
conducting, is it?

What is done/expected where you teach and conduct that would shed light on
this dilemma?

Thanks for wading through this.

Ron
Rowland Blackley, D.M.A. Director of Choral Activities Ashland University
Ashland, OH 44805 (419) 289-5114 rblackle@ashland.edu

THE RESPONSES, in no particular order: