Newman University votes on cost control plans for fine arts department

Posted:
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Newman University fine arts students are afraid Thursday after their board of trustees voted in a meeting to approve a recommendation to examine options for cost control within the department.

Students in the theater department were preparing for a play Thursday, "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs". However, in the back of their minds they are afraid that everything they are working toward may be on the chopping block.

"Just knowing that those times of my day would be left empty if that were taken from me, I don't know how I would fill them, I don't know what I would do," said Allison Williams, a fine arts student with a minor in theater.

Allison Williams said part of the reason she came to Newman was because of the fine arts department. According to her, she was told by a department employee September 30 that the votes in the meeting were to cut the music department, something she takes part in with their singing group, the troubadours.

"All of us were just kind of shell shocked," Williams said. "Most of us started crying if not all of us."

The University board of trustees released this statement from JT Klaus, the board of trustees chair at the university, who denied the allegations that the department had been cut:

"There seems to be confusion on social media about the music program at Newman. The University has not made any decision to eliminate its music department. In fact, during the September 21st Newman University Board of Trustees meeting, the board approved several recommendations from its financial task force for future consideration in its strategic plan. One recommendation was for the university administration to examine options to control costs in the fine arts area. There was no directive nor any action taken to shut down the music program. It’s simply not true.  

We value music and fine arts at Newman as we value the sciences, humanities and athletics and many other areas. Our namesake, John Henry Cardinal Newman, created the “Idea of a University” of educating the whole person and we take great pride in the work that Newman faculty, staff and students do daily to live up to that mission."

Regardless of the statement, some went out and made a petition called "Save the Newton University Music Department", some of the students said because it has been the face of the university for years.

"Try to convince them that they're making a mistake," Austin Schwartz said, a theater major at the university.

For now, the show must go on for the students. However, the worry still sits in the back of their minds.

"I'm a little worried," Schwartz said. "I've made a lot of friends here, my family lives here in town, so, it'd be kind of scary just having to start over."

The board of trustees is set to meet again in February.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

MORE SLIDESHOWS HERE