Choosing to do my undergrad at OU was an easy decision for me. Family-like atmosphere, small class sizes, direct academic attention, the list goes on. When I was applying to colleges, I started with OU and CMU. My OU audition and placement exams came, went, and an acceptance offer was given. I called CMU that day to cancel my audition.
After deciding to go into music education, I knew OU was the right place for me. In fact, my senior year of high school, we were traveling to ACDA Cincinnati and both my bus and the Oakland Chorale bus stopped at the same rest stop. I bumped into Mike Mitchell in the lobby area where he took time out of his day to recruit another student; me. What other university can say they have professors who would do this? To ensure they expand their family, to boost an incoming student’s confidence, to make those connections with students even prior to them beginning their degree.
Or, maybe we look at Edie Diggory who pushed me to my limits in the best ways possible. Who taught me to love my real voice and be proud of the music I was making. Or, Lois J. Kaarre who didn’t just teach our accompanying class, but made genuine connections with each and every student, making sure we knew that mistakes were okay as long as you kept going (something very difficult for this type A person to move past). Or, Drake and Alta Dantzler who instilled the confidence in me to even want to put on a senior recital when I wasn’t required to, who made me want to take extra classes like Opera Workshop, and to push me out of my comfort zone as a performer. Or, Deborah VanderLinde who nourished the minds of growing music educators, taking time to ensure understanding of not only the material, but our future students. Or, Melissa Hoag, Victoria Shively, Joe Shively, David Kidger, Patrick Fitzgibbon, Jessica Payette, Mark Stone, the list goes on.
As a current educator that serves on their local education association board, what you, as administration, are doing to your staff is a disgrace. The staff at OU is what makes the experience, plain and simple. They’re the reason I chose to go back here for my master degree. They’re the first thing I talk about when students ask me about my undergrad degree. They’re the reason I’ve always spoken so highly of this university.
I do not regret my time at OU. Frankly, it was everything I needed and could have asked for in a program and school. I, however, cannot remain silent in the complete abuse and aggression that you are pushing on to your staff during this negotiation process.
I will always stand in solidarity with the same staff that made me the educator and musician I am today.
Please, do right and honor your staff members with the pay, benefits, and contract they deserve.