Cultural Inclusion

torres_georgeGeorge Torres, Lafayette College
Chair, Committee on Cultural Inclusion

The Committee on Cultural Inclusion for 2012-13 consists of the following members of the College Music Society: Deborah G. Nemko, Deborah Schwartz-Kates, Marissa D. Silverman, Sang-Hie Lee, Margaret E. Lucia, Eric Hing-tao Hung, and George Torres, chair.

The Committee achieved a several goals during the 2012-2013 year including committee-sponsored participation at the National Meeting in San Diego, setting of goals for the year at the Annual Meeting of the Committee in San Diego, and Participating in the call for program participation for the 2013 National Meeting in Cambridge. All of these efforts work towards meeting one of the specific goals and actions articulated in the Strategic Vision Plan:

4C. Increase efforts to expand inclusiveness of music and approaches to its study

The committee submitted proposals for two panels in the 2012 National meeting in San Diego, both of which were accepted. The first panel, “Navigating the Tenure and Promotion Process” was targeted not only for non-tenured faculty members with questions and concerns about the tenure and promotion process, but also by senior colleagues and administrators with concerns on the challenges of hiring, mentoring, retaining, and promoting their junior minority faculty. The panelists, Eric Hung (Westminster Choir College, Janet Sturman (University of Arizona), Patrick Jones (Syracuse University), and Paul Osterfield (Middle Tennessee State University), discussed common types of tenure and promotion procedures from a variety of perspectives including:

  • Special challenges for music faculty
  • Special challenges for minority faculty and faculty who teach outside Western art music
  • Common pitfalls for promotion and tenure candidates

The panel was well attended with about thirty people participating. The discussion that occurred at the end of the session was notably engaging, as the topic was relevant to the society’s membership. A follow up to this panel was submitted in the call for program participation for the 2013 National Conference in Cambridge, MA. (See Below).

The other panel, “Revising Course Content for a More Inclusive Curriculum” was a workshop conducted by George Torres (Lafayette College), was a workshop that examined ways that faculty may rework and revise their current courses in order to infuse diversity into the classroom experience and create a more inclusive learning environment. It also targeted issues for those who wish to build new courses around traditional topics (music history, music theory) in order to address issues of difference, to add innovative diversity-related components to their existing courses, and/or to sharpen their pedagogical abilities related to diversity in music classes. This panel was well attended with about 25 participants, and this was the subject of one of our topics at the committee’s annual meeting.

For the coming year, the committee has submitted two panels for Cambridge, 2013. One is entitled “Mentoring Minority Faculty” and examines the challenges that minorities face in academia, particularly junior faculty who are going up for tenure.  Panelists will discuss studies about teaching evaluations and minority faculty, well-meaning policies (e.g., some universities ensure that every search committee contains a member of a racial minority) that can hurt the careers of minority faculty, minority faculty and department cultures, women faculty members and family life, and recent court cases involving minorities and tenure.  Also to be discussed are strategies that senior faculty can employ to mentor minority faculty members and ways minority faculty members can discuss these challenges with senior faculty.
The other submitted panel is entitled “Creating a CMS Minority Faculty Pool.” In the past, the committee has received inquires from Music school directors and chairpersons as to whether CMS has a minority faculty pool from which to draw potential candidates for their searches. Having a CMS-organized minority faculty pool could act as clearing-house and a potential source of available faculty for search committees fits well into the CMS mission "...A consortium of college, conservatory, university, and independent musicians and scholars interested in all disciplines of music, the Society provides leadership and serves as an agent of change by addressing concerns facing music in higher education."

The committee is hopeful that these two important panels will make their way into the 2013 program.

At our annual meeting at the National Conference in San Diego, the committee discussed some of the challenges facing the society and its commitment to cultural inclusion for the future. It was suggested that the Committee on Cultural Inclusion Should have a direct voice on the CMS board. It is unfortunate that out of all the CMS advisory councils, student advisory council excluded, the Cultural Inclusion Committee is the only one that does not have a direct voice on the Board. The committee recommends that in the future, the chair of the Cultural Inclusion Committee be included on the CMS Board.

The committee also discussed the importance of bringing the issues that concern the committee to a wider audience among the membership. The committee recommends that a Cultural Inclusion Committee plenary session be included in a future National Conference program. Currently, the committee is expecting this session to examine the “glass ceiling” in academia.

The Committee was also represented during the National Conference at the CMS Expo and Welcome Reception, where I was available to greet participants and discuss the aims and objectives of our committee.