January, 2003

Robert Weirich

As I begin my term as President of The College Music Society, I'd like to share some facts as well as a few questions with you.

As of August 31, 2002, The College Music Society had 8,571 members, the highest number in its 46-year history. Of this number, 6,290 are "regular" members, 1,717 are student members, and 216 are retired. A total of 348 make up the remainder as "life" members, a membership category discontinured in 1988.

The growth rate for membership in CMS over the last five years is thus a healthy 22.6%. In 2001-2002 alone, the rate was 6.7%. This suggests that CMS is doing something right for its members. My first question: What are we doing right?

Another look at the figures is less conclusive. You may be interested to know that 1,255 members have the rank of professor, 850 are associate professors, 1,205 are assistant professors, 225 are lecturers, 287 are instructors, 138 are adjunct, and 1,717 are students. This totals 5,677, yet we know that there are 8,571 members in CMS. This leaves 2,894 members who have, or claim, no professional rank. As the executive board of the Society pondered this information at our fall meeting, curiosity raged in that windowless hotel conference room about this portion of the membership. Who are you?

I'd really like to get some answers to those questions, as well as to several more I will pose in this first missal to the membership. I hope that, as you read the questions and the urge comes upon you to answer me, you'll take up pen or mouse and do exactly that.

The Society By-Laws allow for a two-year term for president and I realize that if I'm to have any effect at all on the Society in those two years, I've got to start my term running hard. Through the election process, you've entrusted me with the gavel, and I do have an agenda. But CMS exists for its members, and I need your help to keep me on task. This requires asking questions that you will have to answer if you want to influence things. What do you need from CMS that you aren't getting?

Of the 8,571 members, 3,429 list performance as their primary field of teaching, a whopping 40% of the total membership. Yet I know from experience that performers are perhaps the least active segment of the membership in the affairs of the Society. I'd Iike to make CMS more responsive to the needs of our performer members, but I'm not sure how to do this. If the regional or national meetings of CMS offered more for performers to do and absorb, would you come?

Performers are not the only ones who don't attend meetings. The annual meeting last September in Kansas City attracted only 327 members. This represents only 4% of the total membership. Ten regional chapter meetings attracted 311 people. Where are the rest of you?

We know that attendance at the national meeting is expensive, but if more people attended, the registration fee would be lower.

We also know you have other obligations and perhaps choose to attend a discipline-specific meeting, such as AMS, SMT, MENC. What you may not know is that CMS has several important initiatives underway that could have a major effect on higher education in music.

The Student Concerns Committee is reaching out to graduate students to assist them in their job pursuit needs. The Mentoring Committee similarly is creating the means for older faculty to help younger colleagues. The Professional Development Committee exists to devise workshops or forums for faculty wanting to learn new skills, rejuvenate old ones, or simply to try something different. An International Relations Task Force will soon be formed to learn more about music education in other countries and how CMS might serve as a catalyst toward mutual understanding. A Task Force for Administrative Issues is studying the interaction of faculty and administration. Sessions at regional and national meetings on curricular change lead to heated discussion in hallways and at dinner among colleagues from all across the country.

This short listing barely begins to cover the activities of The College Music Society. Who does all this work? Alas, it's a relatively small number of active members. For the Society to really have an effect on music in higher education, we need to bring more people into the conversation. It would please me greatly if during these next two years, CMS brought more people into these efforts for positive change. With national meetings scheduled in Miami (2003) and San Francisco (2004), it couldn't be a better time to become involved.

If you are taking the time to read this column, you are likely the kind of person we need. It may sound like a cliche to say that the Society needs you, but nothing could be truer. More importantly, music in higher education needs you, too.