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Limited solutions to a crisis in specialisation

The dust has now settled from the tectonic shifts at the ANU School of Music. For those who did not feel the earthquake from its epicentre in Canberra, the shock arrived on 2 May, 2012, when all positions in the department were declared vacant in an epically mismanaged ‘spill and fill.’ The then-Head of Music Adrian Walter disappeared on leave, before popping up on a Hong Kong news site as the newly-appointed Director of the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts.

A sham of a consultation process ensued, during which the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) quarrelled idly with the new Pro-Vice-Chancellors, whose wages just happened to equal the projected savings from cuts to the School. The community didn’t come up with the money to stem the job losses and the local orchestra saw the whole shebang as a great opportunity. The only real and clear-headed organisation came from the students, who put on some of the finest protests and concerts that Llewellyn Hall had ever seen to defend an education that they believed to be first-rate. Enter Peter Tregear, a spirited academic and senior administrator (who I’m sure prefers the former title) with all the right credentials, first and foremost of which was his foreignness to the whole situation.