TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — Don’t Silence The Music

I don’t know much, but I do know that music therapy is pretty close to being cutting edge. Cutting edge like the drone technology the University of North Dakota has so broadly embraced in the last few years. Too bad UND administrators can’t see the connection.

Without going into detail, music therapy has helped countless people, from infants to the aged, in relieving pain, stress and anxiety. It has been shown to benefit those with autism and dementia. The list goes on and on.

UND is the only school in the state offering the program.  As a course of study, it provides students with a career path with almost unlimited opportunities.

Sadly, UND has announced plans to suspend its Music Therapy Program, part of $9.5 million in budget cuts the school has been asked by the governor to make in its current budget.

According to the Grand Forks Herald, UND Music Department Chairman Michael Wittgraf said suspending the music therapy program wasn’t part of a plan he submitted to UND College of Arts and Sciences Dean Debbie Storrs in Februrary.

To their great credit, UND Interim President Ed Schafer and his wife, Nancy, invited a group of students protesting the program’s suspension to entertain state lawmakers and others who were at the president’s home for a social gathering Monday evening. Those close to the situation believe Schafer could reconsider the decision to suspend the program before he makes a final decision by April 15.

If I were a UND administrator, I would be holding my head in shame. If I were a North Dakota lawmaker or a member of the state Higher Eduation Board, I would be climbing on the bandwagon (no pun intended) to stop the program’s suspension, or creating one to do so.

10 thoughts on “TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — Don’t Silence The Music”

  • Larry Gauper March 15, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Interesting and enlightening piece, Terry. Some worthwhile observations. Music, as a stress reliever, is far more healthy than booze and/or overindulging on food. A hot bath with lots of water and relaxing music is a better idea. Appreciate your info on this; well-stated, as usual!

    1. Terry Dullum March 19, 2016 at 9:32 am

      Thanks, Larry.

  • Barbara La Valleur March 15, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    The advantage of music therapy have been documented for years. It is a vital source of relief; a painless and safe way to help those who benefit from it.

    1. Terry Dullum March 19, 2016 at 9:34 am


  • John Miller March 15, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    I was disappointed to learn of this program suspension. Administratively, the move seems convenient. As I understand it, the two permanent positions that administer the program happen to be vacant, so suspension would not affect current faculty. However, the savings are reported to amount to less than 2% of the budget shortfall, and the loss of a third (yes, a third) of the UND music majors would certainly hamstring the department as a whole, in ensemble depth, in program mission, and in outreach initiatives.

    Perhaps most importantly, the music therapy program is the only one of its kind in the near region, is successful in job placement, and fulfills an important mission of UND, providing clinical presence in health services to both the area and the medical school.

    In music, UND and her sister institutions admirably serve the region with an effective and versatile suite of important music programs. The loss of a major component of that regional presence would indeed ill serve our unified mission for the good of the state.

    John Miller
    Director, Challey School of Music
    North Dakota State University

    1. Terry Dullum March 19, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Thanks, John. And thanks for your excellent letter to The Herald.

      1. John Miller March 19, 2016 at 9:48 am

        Terry, as you know, I have great respect for both institutions and for both Arts programs. I think we’ve demonstrated an excellent model of cooperation and program focus over the years, and I would hate to see our regional Arts presence diminished. Thanks for your advocacy.

        1. Terry Dullum March 20, 2016 at 10:50 am

          A model of cooperation indeed.

  • Frank Junior Ereth March 15, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Stands to reason why people listen to music for a variety of reasons but all to set a special mood and like. It is known to sooth the ravaged soul and quell fears in mankind. O please keep this special University of North Dakota music program. I see it to be beneficial to do so.

    1. Terry Dullum March 19, 2016 at 9:36 am

      Thanks, Frank.


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