Administrative Leadership and Management in Music

February 28, 2007

With this issue, the Newsletter begins a new column devoted to administrative leadership and management in music. The purpose of this regular column is to support the work of our colleagues performing some form of administrative duties, to contribute to their professional development in administration, and to provide a resource for those interested in learning more about administrative careers.

Why this new column? Here are five reasons:

o "Let's do the numbers." Every music program, whether it is a stand-alone department or part of a division of fine and performing arts, has someone serving in some administrative capacity. Put differently, administrators and chairs comprise a significant constituency within academe, and music is no exception. According to data collected by CMS, there are 3,179 individuals serving in administrative positions at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada (chairs, deans, presidents, associate or assistant chairs or deans, directors of preparatory divisions, directors of summer programs, directors of graduate studies, directors of admission, or directors of artist series). All administrators of course are not members of CMS, but they don't have to be to benefit from the Newsletter, which, like other publications, is disseminated beyond the membership of the Society. More important than the exact number of members is the presence of a constituency that would be served well with support of a regular column addressing issues, challenges, concerns, and joys of administrative work.

o Because it's there. As noted above, a significant number of musicians are active in administration. Granted, there are many who only perform a tour of duty as chair or assistant dean and then return, gleefully or otherwise, to full-time teaching. Regardless of the length of service or level of commitment, one needs certain skills to succeed in administration, along with being reflective of one's work. This column will contribute to such development.

o Skills Development. Like other specializations, administration has unique demands, challenges, and expectations. Similar to other academic disciplines, we in music do not spend adequate time and resources preparing individuals for administrative roles, yet the importance of this work cannot be understated. Without excellent leadership and management, any music program will suffer. There are reasons, both good and bad, for why this irony exists, why we in academe do not make the investments we should in preparing and supporting administrators, especially department chairs. This column does not attempt to redress this problem; it does try, along with other work by the CMS Committee on Administration (formerly the Task Force on Administration), to contribute to the development of effective administrators and to do so regularly. It is in our best interest that we as a profession spend time and effort training and supporting those individuals who have chosen or have been assigned to do such important work.

o Support. Administrative work is challenging enough for those trained and experienced in the field. It can be overwhelming when one is trained instead as a composer, performer, or scholar and is simply placed into the chair rotation, voluntarily or involuntarily. I remember my entry into administration in 1990 as a department chair, when my ambitious and desire to serve my department could not compensate for my wide-eyed inexperience and naivet I learned by doing, sometimes under fire - a lot of fire! I found useful resources, got tips from my provost, asked my colleagues questions, and attended workshops. When it came to administration specific to music, however, I felt I did not have the support I needed. This column, along with other resources that will soon be available on the CMS website, will help colleagues who find themselves in similar situations.

o The Future. As noted in articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education and similar publications, the fast-approaching retirement of the baby boom generation will likely create a leadership shortage in academe. We in music will not be immune. It behooves us to take an active role in the recruitment, training, and development of those beginning or considering either administrative work or careers. Considering the nature of CMS as an umbrella organization devoted, according to its By-Laws, "to the general interests of music in colleges and universities," it makes sense that the Society would contribute to an area that is central to the continued vitality of music in higher education. Without strong, visionary leadership, no music program will flourish, whether it is a small department at a liberal arts college or one of the nation's flagship programs. If we do not invest in training future leaders, we will pay the price. In this regard, this column attempts to engage those curious about or aspiring for leadership positions in music administration.

If successful, this column will contribute to as well as support the professional development of those who choose, are elected to, or are assigned to undertake administrative work. Readers will find essays on management and leadership, descriptions of professional development opportunities for chairs, and reviews of books as well as other literature specific to the field. While it will consider broader issues of academic leadership, the column will delve especially into matters that speak more directly to those active in music administration. All the columns will be archived on the CMS web site and thus will provide readers a growing wealth of information on management and leadership in music.

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