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OU issues statement on plans to close American Organ Institute, shut down organ technology program

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Organ March (copy)

Supporters of the OU’s American Organ Institute walk to Evans Hall June 17 to oppose its closure.

OU issued a press release Monday afternoon saying it would move forward with its plan to close the American Organ Institute and remove the organ technology program at OU.

According to the release, OU informed employees of its intent to close the program last week after months of “comprehensive review” of the university’s budget. OU will “teach out” students currently enrolled in the organ technology program, but still plans to close the program.

The organ technology program trains students in organ maintenance and repair, according to the release. The program currently has six students majoring in organ technology, and 17 taking courses as part of their pipe organ music degrees.

The bachelor of music program for the organ is not affected by the closure, according to the release.

“With six undergraduate students enrolled and nearly $400,000 a year in operating costs,” the release said, “the university’s financial position cannot infuse large funds into the program. Unfortunately, a permanent source of funds never was established when the program was created, and sustainable private sources are not available.”

Kyle Harper, OU senior vice president and provost, said in the release it was unfair to other students to maintain the program, citing the program’s expenses and the lack of sustainable funds. Harper said the bachelor of music program for the organ will not be affected by the decision.

“OU has a proud tradition of teaching organ music, and that tradition will continue,” Harper said. “However, we have a responsibility to have sustainable funding behind all operations. It is not fair to ask OU students, many of whom work or take on debt, to subsidize an organ maintenance program that is very expensive and lacks sustainable funding. We will continue to be mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of citizen and student resources.”

According to the release, faculty in the program will be retained to ensure enrolled students can complete their coursework.

The release was issued hours after supporters of AOI gathered outside of Evans Hall and met with Harper to oppose the closure of the institute. Nolan Reilly, an OU alumnus and director of music for St. Thomas More University Parish, said interim OU President Joseph Harroz agreed to meet with him “later this week.”

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