Announcing the Ithaca College School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

By La Jerne Terry Cornish and Melanie Stein, January 25, 2022
A message from Interim President La Jerne Terry Cornish and Interim Provost Melanie Stein.

We are excited to announce that effective July 1, 2022, Ithaca College will bring together two of its most renowned programs to establish the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. This new school will highlight and celebrate the performing arts at Ithaca College, allowing for more cross-disciplinary education and exposure and better preparing students for real-world multidisciplinary artistic careers in the 21st century.

The current School of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts—presently located within the School of Humanities and Sciences—will comprise a Division of Music and Division of Theatre and Dance within the new school. This structure will enhance our ability to promote our strengths in these disciplines and our dedication to building upon the proud legacy of our founding as the Ithaca Conservatory of Music. We look forward to working with the faculty, staff, and students in these already successful programs to capitalize on this integration and create a thriving new school within IC.

It is important to underscore that we are committed to continuing to offer all of the degree programs currently housed in the School of Music and Department of Theatre Arts. Both new and returning students will find their education enriched as their new school begins to take advantage of natural synergies and opportunities for collaboration, with fewer barriers to engaging in cross-division learning.

The decision to create this organizational model has been deeply considered and analyzed. A School of Music/Department of Theatre Arts Transition Committee, made up of faculty and staff from both disciplines, met weekly throughout the fall semester to explore, assess, and determine a blueprint for joining the two areas in an ideal mode to ensure that faculty are empowered to deliver the best educational experience to our students. As part of that process, the committee gathered feedback and facilitated conversations among faculty, staff, and students within the schools and departments. 

Each of the two divisions will be led by an associate dean. The search for the inaugural dean of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance has already begun, with the search committee currently gathering input on developing the leadership profile that will guide the recruitment of applicants for this important position. Feedback was solicited during a series of virtual listening sessions held for students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and input can continue to be provided through an anonymous online survey. The transition committee will continue to work on planning and logistical details and advise the administration as needed.

We want to take this opportunity to give special thanks to Interim School of Music Dean Ivy Walz and Department of Theatre Arts Chair Steve TenEyck, who co-chaired the transition committee, along with all of the committee members and others who provided critical input and insights.

This transformation—and the process used to achieve it—aligns with multiple goals in the Ithaca Forever strategic plan, including that of structurally supporting and valuing collaboration, interdisciplinarity, curricular flexibility, and shared governance.

We are excited by the prospects that our School of Music, Theatre, and Dance will open up for our community to discover—together—new opportunities for unlocking the potential in our students and in the programs that serve them, building upon the remarkable legacy of our alumni who continue to be trailblazers in their fields. And we believe that this will further strengthen our reputation as the college for students of the performing arts, whether they are interested in a future that sees them being on the stage, behind the scenes, or in the classroom educating the next generation of learners.

Ithaca College began in 1892 as the Ithaca Conservatory of Music. But it was just a short five years later that the affiliated Williams’s School of Expression and Dramatic Art brought a new mode of educating, engaging, and empowering our students through theory, practice, and performance. The history of Ithaca College has been marked by such progressions, and we look forward to this next stage in our ongoing evolution.

With gratitude,

La Jerne Terry Cornish
Interim President

Melanie I. Stein
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs