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Letters


To the University Senate Academic Policies Committee:

I have learned once again that people outside of the Music Therapy Program want to cut the program so as to cut Wisconsin students off from the opportunity to enter this growing professional field that is steadily increasing in demand not only in Wisconsin but throughout the world. As a member of the Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care and as Co-chair of the statewide task force that wrote our current state Public Health Plan, I have heard from numerous health care leaders who tell of the wondrous advantages that music therapy has brought to their patients and families. Our UWEC interns and graduates are particularly commended for their musical skills and clinical effectiveness, both of which are often said to be superior to students from most other schools. For decades now, there has not been a controversy about whether we are therapists versus musicians. It is universally accepted that excellent musical skills along with knowledge of music therapy principles are essential in order to implement proven music therapy procedures in actual practice. That is why groups of volunteer performers such as Music in Hospitals are no longer accepted as a substitute for professionally prepared music therapists.

As a member of the American Music Therapy Association's International Relations Committee, I am constantly amazed by the success of music therapy graduates from our program and their increasing demand as a growing variety of health care employers are exposed to the Biomedical Theory of Music Therapy and the greatly enhanced understanding of music therapy that it provides. UW-Eau Claire is widely recognized as the world headquarters for this theoretical framework since I created it here and introduced it in 1990. The book that sets forth this neurophysiological theory was written here and published in 1997, has been labeled a "Classic" and a "Best Seller" and is still in great demand after four printings (Taylor, Biomedical Foundations of Music as Therapy). It is clear that alumni, students, and professionals within our field and related health disciplines look to UW-Eau Claire Music Therapy for help in learning how music therapy affects the brain and other systems of the body and for proven effective ways of using this approach to explain our field to physicians, administrators, insurance companies, psychologists, legislators, patients, and many others involved in health care. I have just returned from presenting at the European Music Therapy Congress and I am currently involved in preparing speaking appearances, seminars, and providing online consultation on this UW-Eau Claire based theoretical framework for organizations including the World Federation of Music Therapy, the Southwest Region of the American Music Therapy Association, the Music Therapy Neurological Network, and a new web-based international group called Music Therapy for Addictions. I have personally been asked about the possibility of having Music therapy students from our program serve victims of trauma in areas of great need such as Bosnia, many African countries, Southeast Asia, Israel and the Palestinian areas.

There are many programs within UW-Eau Claire that I have cited in previous testimony that have resources such as faculty and building space devoted to them, but have fewer students and less demonstrable demand for their graduates in a specified professionally certified discipline. I sincerely and strongly suggest that the Committee and the Senate look to those programs to determine where the university might gain some efficiency in managing resources.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Dale B. Taylor, Professor and Chair Emeritus
Department of Allied Health Professions

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Dale B. Taylor, Ph.D., MT-BC
Professor Emeritus of Music Therapy
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Eau Claire, WI 54702 U.S.A.
Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care
American M. T. Assoc. Internatl. Relations Comm.
Email: Dtaylor9029@charter.net
Phone or Fax: 715-836-9029
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To whom it may concern,

Many of us know personally and many more have heard what an outstanding program Music Therapy is and how lucky we are to have it in Eau Claire; how deserving it is of our respect, appreciation and support.  For over 29 years I have been and, though retired, continue to be an impassioned Admissions representative and recruiter for UW Eau Claire . It has been the Liberal Arts Values that I believe the University stands for, and the people who live them, that have kept my fire stoked. Dale Taylor, Lee Anna Rasar and their many wonderful students are what this University professes to be and should be all about .

My Admission experience is that, while in high school, Music Therapy students typically have achieved the hallowed GPA's and rank in class that the ratings hold in such high esteem. And the entire University benefits and dollars follow.

More importantly for me, are the contributions these students have made in their home communities and here in Eau Claire once it also becomes home. Personally, I have witnessed hundreds of people benefit from the skill, passion, love and generosity of our MT staff and students. I marveled at the joy Lee Anna and staff brought to the residents of the Mount Washington home, including my best Eau Claire friend and former teacher, as he "lived" out the Winter of his life rather then vegetate as is the case with out people like Lee Anna.

Even closer to home, my father now resides in the Syverson Nursing home here in Eau Claire and has written his own letter of support of the program as he fights for quality of life in that awkward limbo between this world and the hereafter. Nothing transforms my father like a good song. We O'Briens were delighted to be woven into an Irish sing along with Lee Anna and Eau Claire students , actually a class. As a frequent visitor to Syverson, I've had the chance to observe and even to participate with Lee Anna and her students as they routinely brighten up the day of scores of residents with their knowledgeable and therapeutic application of music.

A couple of months ago, my dad came up with the seemingly half baked idea of a "living wake" , a party, to celebrate his life; and to honor his fellow travelers while he was still here to enjoy it. Lee Anna was instrumental in a smashing success of music, song food and beverage, reflection and fun. The celebrants and curious numbered over 100 and included about 60 residents, their family members, employees and friends of Syverson. Many of these are also friends and future friends of the University. Well, enough of that. You are all drowning in a sea of glowing testimonials .

This is about the bottom line as Steve Tallant has clearly articulated. The prevailing Philosophy of the University seems to be to throw the runts out of the life boat so the survivors can be stronger. Contrary to that now fashionable wisdom, shouldn't a community of over ten thousand people and enormous though limited resources share the pain and find a way to prevent jettising the inconvenient and most vulnerable from our community. How much does The Music Therapy program cost relative to it's contribution? Can't our illustrious administrators, School of Business and University community find a way to preserve and nourish one of our own, one of our best ? Isn't part of the liberal arts narrowing the gap between haves and have nots ? Reaching out, participating in and serving the broader community. Providing hands on learning experience to our students. Being integrative and interdisciplinary. Incorporating and promoting the arts, like music, into our daily lives.

Still, there is the reality of the "bottom line". I would consider it an honor to pledge $5,000 on behalf of the O'Brien family to the UW Eau Claire Music Therapy program or it's designee,  if it is funded at least through 2010. That means full steam ahead, admitting new classes through Fall 2010 and grand fathering students if necessary , through 2014.

Please don't scoff at this "spit in the bucket" , as it represents over 12% of my retirement income from the University and I am normally a cheapskate in the eyes of our free spending and wasteful culture. I am sure there are hundreds of other supporters who would contribute generously to a good faith effort by the University to welcome Music Therapy back into the main stream. We would do this because the people involved in Musc Therapy have done so well what a truly outstanding Liberal Arts University does : touched our hearts and out lives in a very meaningful way.

Please, let's all join together and put our money where our mouths are. Thank You.

Damian O'Brien

Faculty Emeritus




From: Diane Knight, MS, MT-BC
Associate Professor and Director of Music Therapy
ALVERNO College

Sent: October 5, 2007

RE: UW-Eau Claire Music Therapy Program

To whom it may concern:

I am writing this letter to express my shock and deep concern over the fact that there is any discussion at all concerning the viability of the Music Therapy program at UW Eau Claire. As a graduate of the music therapy program at Eau Claire, and one who has had a 32-year relationship with the faculty and students of that program on a professional and personal level, and I can speak to the quality of that program. Although I am head of a department that offers the only other music therapy major in the state, I have always referred potential students to EC with confidence if ALVERNO College did not seem to be the right fit for them. I know that EC has done the same for us and this friendly competition has served to strengthen the music therapy base in this state. While there are many points I can address as to why you would not want to loose this fine program, I am going to focus on those areas that most directly reflect my personal experiences as a music therapy professor in Wisconsin.

First, please know that ALVERNO College has had a music therapy major since 1950 and while we serve a good number of students seeking training in one of the few music careers where they are guaranteed to get a job after they get their degree (I have had 100% placement of all my majors for the past 10 years!), the college does not offer degrees to males. We NEED Eau Claire for that among many other things! I routinely turn away several applicants a year due to gender. Also, during our entire history of offering a baccalaureate program in music therapy, the college has always had only one full-time faculty member in music therapy. Adjunct faculty have been hired on a part-time basis as needed, depending on enrollment and courses that were being offered. I share this information mostly to emphasize the fact that it is indeed possible for one person to manage an excellent department and carry other major college responsibilities as well. As has most likely been pointed out by other individuals, there is precedent for this model in numerous colleges and universities throughout the country. While we would love to have more programs with 2 full time faculty, it is very common for that situation to not exist.

The important issue is that EC should not want to loose out on the equity it has accrued over the years not only through the accomplishments of the faculty, but also the accomplishments of the students. Music therapy students consistently are among the top performers academically at any institution and all find employment within 3 months of graduation. Do not be the ones to silence that message. Second, consider whom the college wide contributions that have been made by your current Music therapy professor. Lee Anna Rasar can do more in one day than most people do in one week. Again, it would be redundant of me to site her phenomenal record of honors and accomplishments since coming to EC, and those of you who work with Lee Anna know full well that she is more than qualified to handle whatever challenges come her way to keep the music therapy program vibrant. She is a talented, passionate teacher whose care and concern for students is outweighed only by her love and empathy for the clients she serves. What a marvelous role model students have in her. The college could not afford to purchase the kind of positive PR Lee Anna and her students provide within the community and nationally for Eau Claire.

And last, the role of public education is to serve the public. As Job Hotline Coordinator for the State of Wisconsin, I can say that there have consistently been more jobs for music therapists than there are people to fill the jobs. In this current market, why would we take away from our young people the ONE major in music where at the end of 4 1/2 years, they know they will be employed? How many majors at your college can make that kind of guarantee? This is a very powerful marketing tool that happens to be true. Market research shows health care to be among the fastest growth areas for jobs. Why not prepare our states young people for jobs that will keep them in our state?

I strongly urge the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to carefully consider this decision. Many years have gone into building a department with an International reputation. Don’t let these efforts be lost. We would become the ONLY state in the great lakes region without a music therapy degree within a public university or college. There are clients that need the care that students trained at Eau Claire can provide, and there are students that need the education that Eau Claire can provide.

Thank you for considering these concerns.





To Whom It May Concern:

I'm writing in support of keeping the music therapy program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. As a former staff member and an Eau Claire community member, the quality of the program and the community service it provides are the principal reasons I support its continuance.

When I taught psychology of the exceptional child, I had several students from this program in my class each semester. Their serious interest and level of insight into working with people with a variety of disabilities were notable. I had occasion to go present to some of the groups where they were doing internships and to watch them interact with their clients. They were professional, personable and extremely committed, very good representatives of the program and the university in the community.

One of the students also made me aware of the department's website. The information about various disabilities and strategies for working with clients with those disabilities was good enough that I recommended it to students in other helping professions.

At a personal level, I have experienced the power of music therapy provided by faculty and students from the music therapy department with a friend who is a retired UWEC faculty member who has a dementia and resides in a nursing home. As words fail in communicating, a musical talent that lay dormant was discovered by a music therapist. It has given this person a way to keep contributing to their community.

As your committee makes the difficult decisions it must make about priorities in tough times, I wish you wisdom. I hope the quality, national reputation and community service provided by this excellent Music Therapy program make it worthy of continuance.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Katherine Schneider, Ph.D.
Senior Psychologist, Emerita
Counseling Service
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
schneiks@uwec.edu




October 8, 2007

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

I am appalled by the continuing efforts to cut the Music Therapy Program at UWEC. This highly valued and internationally recognized program is one of the few on campus that truly showcases the vision of the "Strategic Plan" of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Students in this program are among the best and most dedicated students I have encountered in over 25 years of teaching. They are committed not to "self" but to the service of others - something that not many programs (or students) can say. I have personally worked with many of the Music Therapy students both while I was teaching and since my retirement. Their quality and commitment is outstanding and their training seems to be second to none.

The Music Therapy Program showcases the mission of the university by integrating research, teaching, and community service in many phases of the program. In addition to on-campus courses, students receive training in community settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, private homes, and the Eau Claire County Jail. Many people's lives are touched by these students. This involvement is a win-win situation for everyone as the facilities/agencies benefit from free programming, the students gain real life experience and broaden their education, and the patients/residents/inmates receive the services they need to respond in meaningful ways. I understand that the community involvement of music therapy faculty and students includes seeing over 1000 clients each week, making a deep impact on the Chippewa Valley and its connection to the university.

I have personally worked with both faculty and students on a regular basis as I serve at the Eau Claire County Jail. I can attest to the quality of the program as well as it's effectiveness in helping inmates (male and female) deal with issues of incarceration, anger, betrayal, disappointment, trust, and many others. Were it not for this program, many of these inmates would come out of jail worse than when they went in. The Music Therapy program is making a REAL difference in people's lives right here in the Chippewa Valley.

I have heard that there are seven other universities requesting that the UWEC Music Therapy Program be "transferred" to their campus. This alone should tell you what a "gem" this program is and what a benefit it is to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as well as to the Chippewa Valley at large. Instead of cutting this program, you should be looking at ways to expand and highlight it!

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 715-830-9838 or email wfmellien@gmail.com.

In hopes that you "see the light",
William F. Mellien, Professor Emeriti

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