A recent [Burlington] Free Press story on cuts in temporary employees at the University of Vermont (UVM temporary cuts hit College of Arts and Sciences, student services hardest, June 12) left the unfortunate impression that UVM’s Department of Music was both singled out and decimated.

Neither is remotely true.

A table included with the Free Press story spelled out how reductions in temporary employees were distributed across departments from Admissions to Biology to University Events Services.

In contrast to most academic departments, whose numbers were in the low single digits, the Music Department’s stuck out at 28.

Why such a large number, so apparently out of step with the rest of the university?

The answer lies in how the Music Department defines these positions. In music, “temporary employees” are the professional musicians who give lessons—on clarinet, violin, trombone, guitar, piano and many other instruments—to UVM students. 

The positions have not been cut; they were put on hold over the summer, when students are away and aren’t taking lessons. The lessons, and the teachers, are already loaded into UVM’s course management system.

When students return in the fall, all of these music teachers will be reinstated, provided — as happens every semester — they have takers on their instrument.

With the rest of the university, and higher education generally, the Department of Music faces challenges. But the steps put in place to address them are in line with other departments at UVM. Rumors of the department’s demise are indeed greatly exaggerated.

William Falls
Dean, UVM College of Arts and Sciences