It seems that at the University of St. Francis, we do not hear too much about our Fine Arts department. However, we are very aware of the fact that they exist. If you are a resident student, you probably can hear the rehearsals that go on late at night in Tower Hall. However, amidst all of the advertising that comes from clubs and extracurricular groups, we never seem to see anything regarding our fine arts students. This leaves us with a very obvious question: does the University of St. Francis do enough for our fine arts students and the department as a whole?
Although we do not tend to see much advertising of the fine arts here at the USF, there is a ton of moral support that pours into the program from advisors and department chairs. Pep band director and adjunct professor of music John Donovan spoke on the emotional support for the fine arts programs which he oversees.
“I feel like I am very well supported by my department chair, and I believe that support from the academic side, in general, will be there as Provost Beth Roth is also a musician and wants to see the success of our program,” Donovan said.
Unfortunately, as you can expect, moral support can only take a program so far. With regard to the finances, the budget is miniscule compared to that of other clubs and on-campus organizations. In fact, Donovan expressed a little frustration that the budget he has to work with is similar to that of the budget he has for the high school band program that he oversees. This has led to the program here at St. Francis not being “fully operational” as he explained. Due to the skeletal budget within the music programs here on campus, these programs have attempted, in the past, to reach out to numerous athletic programs in an effort to obtain some spare funds in any way that they can.
“In the past the band has reached out to Athletics for help with the purchase of a new uniform and there was zero support,” Donovan said. “The band’s role is primarily that of an athletic band and the current options do not reflect the professional level of appearance and uniformity required to put the best group face forward.”
Along with these statements, Professor Donovan alludes to the already successful and robust recording arts program here at St. Francis. Donovan’s ultimate aspiration is for the fine arts music programs to reach that level of success and obtain more full-time staff within these departments as opposed to the numerous adjunct professors that are currently doing all they can.
It is unfortunate to say that the fine arts departments are not the only departments struggling in this area. An abundant amount of departments across campus are struggling with this same issue as they continue to try to skate by at the hands of adjunct professors. We can only hope for this issue to be remedied in the future.
As a musician myself, I cannot help but empathize with the students and professors of these fine arts programs as they try to make ends meet with the little bit of help that they receive. On my first tour of USF, I looked into the music department due to my avid involvement in percussive arts throughout my youth. The percussion equipment that our music programs have to work with is anything but ideal. I was, and still am, very disappointed to see the percussion section scattered with lower-end bell kits, snare drums which desperately needed their drum heads and snares replaced and so much more. However, I know the music programs themselves are not to blame.
As someone who was a member of a high school band program for all four years, I am well aware of how little funding is given to the fine arts programs. I am simply upset to see that treasurers throughout the university cannot seem to find a portion of extra funding to help out in some of these areas that I have mentioned. The fine arts programs are doing what they can to try to serve us. It is about time that we have some compassion and try to do more to help serve them.