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Fairmont State Board reaffirms May vote to expand community-based theatre and music/choir programming

Fairmont State University Board of Governors have again voted to expand community-based theatre and music/choir programming and to discontinue academic programs in music and theatre, including music and theatre education during the June 18, 2020 meeting. 

The academic programs will have a one-year teach-out per HEPC guidelines, to ensure that most current majors graduate in their chosen discipline. This decision does not affect the Fairmont State University Marching Band, color guard nor the Academy for the Arts. 

“Over the last few weeks, the members of the Boards of Governors and I have engaged in reviewing the comments and statements from the community regarding the May 21 decision to discontinue the Theatre and Music academic programs,” Dixie Yann, Board of Governors Chair, said. “Many comments and concerns expressed have made clear Fairmont State’s commitment to the community theatre and choir programs, and the Academy of Arts, is an integral part of our community.” 

Unfortunately, the comments have also revealed some confusion surrounding the vote made on May 21, 2020. Yann said the Board was involved in a lengthy process in assessing the discontinuation of the programs. 

“This process formally started in May of 2019 and culminated in the Board’s May 21 vote,” she said. “The Board’s actions were within the law and part of the fiduciary responsibility in which this Board was tasked.” 

The Theatre and Music academic programs were allowed to continue despite low graduation rates, declining numbers, and increased cost to the institution for many years. Because the Board recognized the need for an arts-based presence on campus and in the community, the administration was tasked with creating options to retain that presence before the Board took action.  

Options were created and labeled “Reorganization Scenarios.” After review of the scenarios, the Board determined that “Scenario Two” would ensure an arts-based presence and community-based initiatives to continue in light of the discontinuation of the academic programs. 

Members of the University’s administration are working to put a plan in place to expand community-based theatre and music at Fairmont State beyond the upcoming academic year.

Fairmont State is committed to financially supporting the expansion of community-based music and theatre so that Fairmont State students and the community will have access to participate in musical or theatrical performances. 

The expansion of these programs is separate and apart from the academic program; however, after the program teach out in AY20-21, general studies courses in music and theatre will still be offered at Fairmont State. Students in any major can take these courses to meet their core-curriculum requirements. 

Public comment has been taken during several of the prior Board meetings, and more recently, gathered through a designated email. By providing this information and continued opportunity for the public to comment, the Board hopes to educate the public on institutional processes and to clarify the May vote.

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