Archived Story

SMC cuts dance, theater positions

Published 7:57pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cuts to Southwestern Michigan College dance and theater will not end those programs, according to  Diane Chaddock, COO and executive vice president, Monday.

“It’s much less impactful than people imagine,” Chaddock said. “Students should not see a dramatic difference” because they will still be able to pursue majors and to perform while on campus.

Effective this fall, SMC is scrapping its theater technician program and offering the one-year dance certificate every other year or every third year, similar to its phlebotomy certificate offered to a dozen students periodically to avoid flooding the market with graduates who can’t find jobs.

Chaddock said the brunt of the reductions will be felt by two full-time instructors whose positions are being eliminated, Beth LaBaren-Root for dance and Thom Cooper for theater.

“Severe” state budget cuts left SMC “plenty of challenges,” Chaddock said, and theater and dance are expensive classes to offer for relatively few students who tend to major in something else while pursuing arts on the side.

Chaddock said SMC is falling back on its previous model of part-time faculty teaching an “array” of courses transferrable to four-year schools.

“We’re working with any student to make sure they can finish out their program,” she said. “We always honor a commitment.”

Canceling theater tech, introduced in 2010, proved “a hard decision,” she said. “We put a lot of investment into it,” but only attracted three students.

Chaddock said SMC is also “phasing out” CAD, or computer-aided design, as a one-year certificate or two-year associate degree because its elements have largely been integrated into other programs, such as construction trades or machine tool.

While it seems ironic that while Dowagiac has five dance studios, one class attracted no students. Other classes posted numbers such as one, three and six.

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