Lock Haven University donates Steinway pianos amid cuts

Lock Haven University’s decision to donate 11 Steinway pianos to other institutions marks the day music at Little Pennsylvania College died – or at least the day its music officially ended.

Steinway pianos – used by artists from John Lennon to Billy Joel and others – are announced and expensive instruments with price tags of up to $ 100,000 apiece, depending on the model. Lock Haven has had 22 Steinways on campus since 2008, thanks to a gift from a 1966 graduate and current LHU Board of Trustees, Margery Dosey, and her late husband. The donation has led Pennsylvania College to achieve all-Steinway status, which the manufacturer grants to universities around the world, often prestigious music schools that include only Steinway pianos on campus.

Now, with Dosey’s blessing, 11 of these 22 Steinway pianos are heading elsewhere.

The bachelor’s degree in music education, founded at about the same time as Dosey’s gift, is also on its way out, a victim of low student numbers and a plan to merge six public universities in Pennsylvania. According to the university, no students were enrolled as music disciplines when the reduction was announced last year. Lock Haven is now handing over 11 Steinways to two sister universities and other non-profit organizations.

“Due to lower use by Lock Haven, it makes sense to transfer some pianos to our integration partners, Bloomsburg University and Mansfield. Both institutions have powerful, live music programs that can instantly benefit from donations to enable the maintenance and performance of these amazing instruments, ”University spokesman Doug Spatafore wrote in an e-mail.

In addition, two of the pianos travel to the local school districts and the others to the church.

“One Steinway is donated to Renovo Elementary School – one of the smallest, most rural schools in the system, where the piano is expected to have an immediate, transformative impact on young, developing minds – helping to instill and promote recognition for music,” he said. .

The last melody for the music major

If students at Renovo Elementary School are inspired by a new piano to study music at college, they won’t be able to do so at Lock Haven, at least not as a major – although music will remain part of the general education curriculum, Spatafore said. .

A break in music at Lock Haven, a rural campus about three hours from Pittsburgh, means one less opportunity for local students, who make up the vast majority of the campus community, said Richard Goulet, a university professor at the university and branch president. Association of Pennsylvania State College and University faculties.

“The elimination of study programs (fields) reduces opportunities for the predominantly rural population of central PA and runs counter to the purpose of the State Higher Education System (PASSHE), of which LHU is one of 14 universities, to provide comprehensive higher education experience. to PA citizens at the most affordable price, “Goulet wrote in an e-mail.

The official announcement of the end of the musical major came in March 2021, said Goulet. He noted that the end of this program – and others – comes “from the mandates of the Chancellor’s Office, Dr. Daniel Greenstein that all 14 PASSHE universities meet financial sustainability metrics based on a formula from West Chester University (WCU). ”

The metrics take into account factors such as the number of disciplines and degrees offered at each university, he said, along with student ratios to faculties and other numbers. But Goulet questions the formula because “comparative measurements used WCU numbers,” and West Chester is much larger and closer to Philadelphia than Lock Haven, he noted.

The removal of the Lock Haven music field also means the loss of faculty. One music professor has already been cut. Music professor David Curtin has received a “statement of intent to back down,” Goulet said, describing the phrase as a college jargon “for expulsion” and his work may be canceled by June 2023.

Curtin did not respond to a request for comment.

With 11 Steinways still at hand, Lock Haven retains its all-Steinway status even after the elimination of its musical major, as all remaining pianos come from the manufacturer. And other colleges in the Pennsylvania state system may benefit from Lock Haven’s generosity; Bloomsburg University and Mansfield University will receive four Steinways each.

“The four pianos received from Lock Haven will move Mansfield closer to All-Steinway status and expand the range of musical instruments available to students,” said Ryan McNamara, Mansfield’s spokesman. “The significant impact is that one of the pianos will be used in the recording studio of the music department, where no piano was available before.”

The other three pianos will serve students for practice, tutoring and teaching, he added.

Bloomsburg spokesman Tom McGuire said in an e-mail that “the pianos will be located in our Haas Arts Center and will be used by our faculty and students for academic purposes.”

Other victims of the merger

Although the physical removal and relocation of 11 Steinway pianos may be a visible symbol of the dismantling of the Lock Haven music program, it was not the only major cut made when academics in the Pennsylvania State System reconsidered academics amid the ongoing merger. .

Goulet also pointed to previous cuts in foreign languages ​​and proposed cancellation of programs or concentration in areas such as mathematics, physics, geology, athletic training and various others.

Students enrolled in fields to be shortened will be able to complete their degrees because they will be terminated, Spatafore said.

These cuts are expected to be followed by further job losses for the faculty. However, Goulet said that the elimination of many programs would not be possible without a fight on the part of faculty unions.

“The APSCUF has filed a political complaint with the administration for failing to comply with the moratorium process as stated in our collective agreement,” Goulet said. “The complaint persists.”

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