Members of Mount Royal University’s music conservatory community say they are furious with recent staffing decisions made by senior university administrators.
Carrying placards and chanting, “Respect music, respect students, respect teachers,” dozens protested yesterday in front of the university’s newly built Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts. The $90.5-million centre is home to both the Conservatory and the Bella Concert Hall.
Students, teachers, and other critics lashed out at the decision to not renew contracts for cello instructor John Kadz and manager of the Academy Program for Gifted Youth, Bill van der Sloot, neither of whom spoke at the protest.
Protest organizer and student Andrew Park said that many conservatory students chose MRU specifically to receive instruction and guidance from Kadz and van der Sloot.
Through his megaphone, Park yelled to the crowd that had he known this was going to happen he would have applied to places like the Juilliard School in New York City, but he chose MRU because he felt it offered the same level of education.
Protesters say in addition to the reinstatement of Kadz and van der Sloot, they are also demanding:
- a meeting with MRU president David Docherty
- a meeting with MRU’s board of governors
- a meeting with conservatory faculty and student body
- an audit of conservatory donations and tuition
Speaking to reporters, the dean of the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension, Charles Webber, said that the staffing decision was made largely due to financial cuts, adding that he could not speak about individual situations.
“As a leader sometimes you have to make some decisions that are difficult to explain, because you can’t provide all of the information that you’d like to,” explained Webber, adding, “our aim is to honour the students, to provide the best possible experience for them.”
The Conservatory reports as of this year, there are a record-breaking 10,000-plus registrants, several of whom have travelled from across the globe to study with world-class instructors like van der Sloot and Kadz in non-credit programs.
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