Community and University Cooperation: Service Role and Support Factor

October 31, 1994

Each year, when faculty evaluations, promotion-tenure deliberations, and annual reports roll around, administrators and faculty alike pay dutiful and rightful homage to the trinity of academe: Teaching, Research, and Service. In seeking to establish a perception of accountability, academia and its support systems, both public and private, have traditionally relied upon evidence of sound Teaching, Research, and Service. Institutional administrators, governing boards, accrediting bodies, and state agencies require periodic documentation of accountability in these areas.

Music units, whether divisions, departments, schools, or conservatories, must create and sustain an attitude of necessity, relevancy, and urgency with regard to what we do, and with a mood of determination and confidence in the future of our programs. Everyone knows that artistic endeavors require an atmosphere of fiscal stability in order to flourish, but our programs must be perceived to be sound and our instruction, research/creative activity, and community/public and professional service components must be credible, before we can ask for and expect to receive support.

The aspect of the academic "trinity" that is most visible to the general public and to the persons who manage internal accountability systems within our institutions is Service. Service is usually divided into professional and community/public venues. It is community/public service that I shall address, and the perspective will not be "what we do" for the community and the public constituency but, rather, ways in which the institution and the community/public sector can cooperate in order to develop mutual support, growth, and cultural enrichment.

Here is an inventory "check list" of some of the most vital means of cooperation that enable college/university music units and public/community constituencies to serve each other effectively:



Preparatory and Suzuki programs offer a variety of private lessons and group instruction/activities for community persons of all ages. College/university faculty and qualified undergraduate and graduate students, as well as outstanding instructors from the community, are encouraged to teach in these programs.

Interaction between public school and college/university music educators offers mutual benefits to the units they represent. Shared professional development programs accommodate observation activities, practica, internships, and student teaching. Participatory planning between public school and college/university personnel encourages initiatives in the following areas:

  • generation of grants for new educational programs;
  • exploration of ideas for implementation of new musical arts activities and programs;
  • development of curriculum studies for analyzing teaching methods in arts education;
  • piloting certain programs in arts education in the public schools;
  • maintenance of a clearing house for sharing ideas, searching for solutions to common problems, mutually supporting and, when appropriate, representing each other to the public.


Participatory and Performance Programs

Cooperative endeavors between community-based performance organizations and college/university music units encourage cultural enrichment through participatory experiences. Sizes of populations and levels of artistic standards will, of course, dictate the types of opportunities that may be available. However, it is to the mutual benefit of both the community-based and the academic units to encourage involvement (and ownership) in such organizations as community orchestras, choruses, bands, chamber music ensembles, and opera/musical theater troupes.

In some situations, community youth orchestras are necessary to meet needs of string students that the public schools do not or cannot accommodate. Cooperation between the public schools, the community, and the college/university music unit can be a viable manner of providing for these opportunities.

Music clubs and societies in the community can provide invaluable support to the college/university music unit, and vice versa.

Professional orchestras and opera companies, in cities that have the necessary fiscal means of support, can call upon human resources and physical facilities of colleges/universities, but can offer professional artistic opportunities to qualified faculty and student performers, when appropriate. Support and cooperation between professional musical organizations, the academic community, and the public sector can be of tremendous cultural, educational, and professional benefit to all three constituencies.


Shared Presentations

Outstanding opportunities for various types of presentations, which might otherwise be fiscally prohibitive, can often be provided by joint sponsorship of the college-university music unit, the community, and/or public school entities. Collaborations might include festivals, workshops, performing arts series, master classes, and the interchange of personnel as consultants, technical assistants, and/or guest musicians. Such cooperation has the potential of enriching the musical life of the community as well as the effectiveness of instruction offered by the college/university music unit.


Sharing Facilities, Services, and Resources

Sharing of spaces, equipment and materials, consultancy pools and consortia, inter-library loans, and partnerships in grants are but a few of the types of cooperation that can exist between colleges/universities, public schools and community organizations. None of the entities should expect to be given a "free ride" or to receive accommodation without appropriate compensation. Often, however, in-kind exchanges or payments can be negotiated. It is advisable to develop contractual agreements between the participating units, as appropriate, in order to recognize ownership and responsibility in cases of loss, or to formalize the method of disseminating funds from outside sources.

The aim of community/public service is in no way intended to minimize the autonomy of the various participating units. Rather, it will strengthen the activities, projects, and cultural environments of the individual contributors. Community/public service is not only a fulfillment of the mission of most academic institutions, it can be a gold mine for enriching instruction and, particularly in the arts, for enhancing certain forms of research/creative activity.

1666 Last modified on May 2, 2013
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