Engagement with Higher Education

pike pamela headshotPamela Pike, Louisiana State University
Chair, Committee on Engagement with Higher Education


 Background and Overview of Committee Work for 2014

Current membership of the committee reflects a broad range of perspectives; we serve as faculty members and/or administrators at conservatories, and large and small universities in both Canada and the United States. 

Due to the current climate of increased accountability in higher education, the need to quantify the quality our creative art and scholarship is critical, though perhaps more complicated than in the past. Throughout the year, the committee explored our value as musicians, and how we might articulate and communicate the professional value of our diverse creative work to colleagues, academic leadership, and outside stakeholders. As we defined the problem and identified meaningful ways to measure the value of artistic and creative work, we collaborated with Rick Schmunk, Chair of the CMS Music Business and Industry Committee, to ensure that we understood the value of what we (and our graduates) do within the broader music industry.

During 2014 we conferred via email and a web-based video conference, and five members participated in a panel presentation at the national conference in St. Louis, where we explored our thoughts and findings. The session sparked much interest and there was not enough room for all who wished to attend. The presentation generated thoughtful questions and comments from audience members. We looked at ways to work within our current context of standards and at recognizing opportunities that might encourage paradigm shifts within institutions of higher education as we move forward. The committee plans to summarize our thoughts and findings from these discussions in 2015 and to publish these on one of the CMS web site platforms. We hope to include a meaningful metric, through which all musical fields may be measured, in our final document. We would be willing to do a webinar on the topic if there is enough interest among the CMS membership. We suspect that there is ample interest in the topic as the need to have guidelines for assigning value to faculty-musician productivity emerged as an area of common concern during a meeting of the CMS engagement committee chairs at the 2014 national conference.

Defining and Communicating Professional Value 

Since our areas of specialization within the field of music are diverse, we must become more adept (as faculty members) at articulating what we do and why our creative output is important. How we define our work may look different depending on the area; however, there can be a shared metric to quantify the quality and we can use a common terminology to discuss excellence in our respective fields. We must also explore why the study of music is valuable in the broader context of society and community. While some antiquated values may need to shift or change, we should be able to articulate why specific musical and creative activities and outcomes are valuable both within our university communities and within a broader context. 

We must advocate for ourselves and find a common language to discuss what we do with other music colleagues, with other academics, with alumni, and with outsiders. In addition to becoming better at documenting what we do, we must translate this into language that is meaningful to the audience that we are addressing. We must make meaningful public statements about our work and our art so that more people learn about what we do. During a time when more online platforms are providing viable alternatives and new venues for publishing scholarship, for collaborating with peers, and for archiving (recording) musical art, we will need to discuss and find consensus about how we rank and value such activities within the academy. We will also need to communicate effectively these accomplishments with those outside of the university. The kind of leadership required to advocate for ourselves (and for our profession) should be fostered from the moment new faculty are hired and come from within the faculty ranks, filter though to administrators, alumni, and outside supporters. 

We believe that in order to be valued within institutions, all stakeholders (senior and junior music faculty, music administrators, upper-level administrators, alumni, and outside constituents) must advocate for music and its role within the academy in the coming years. All parties involved must understand the opportunities and the challenges, based on our ability to articulate the value of what we do. Mentorship of young faculty members and of graduate students in music might include training for the role of music advocate, alongside development of musical skills.