NEW: Roscoe Mitchell tells me he found out yesterday that his position is in fact NOT being terminated. Unsure about other faculty.
— @Lefebvre_Sam on Twitter, June 28, 2017.
I couldn’t tell you if Roscoe Mitchell is a good professor. But I do know that the movement to preserve his job is not just the case of people standing up for a guy whose music they like.
Mitchell teaches at Mills College, occupying the Darius Milhaud Chair in Composition — the same post previously held by Pauline Oliveros. His job, and the Milhaud position in general, are now threatened by budget cuts.
Word got out quickly. Mills professor Chris Brown has written a call to action that includes administrator addresses to write to. Someone has started an online petition, and musician Marc Hannaford (weirdly, the same guy who’s music I just discovered) has penned an open letter that anyone is invited to sign. He’ll be sending that tomorrow — Monday, June 12.
Mitchell’s presence at Mills is important because he represents the source. He was a key part of a musical movement that informs jazz, “classical” composition, and improvisation today. Contemporary creativity can trace its heritage to the music fostered by the AACM, and here’s a man who was there. He is one of the creators.
If you were running a music program, wouldn’t it be grand to have this man available as a resource for your students? What would that mean to the prestige of your college?
It’s a shame that liberal arts programs nationwide are under such fire, victims of the market-worshipping dogma that has caused the United States so much harm. Mills has a shortfall and has to make it up somewhere. That’s going to require some self-inflicted wounds, necessarily, but some cuts go deeper than others.