Hiring band boosts music curriculum and ethnic studies


By Mark C. Anderson

One plus one plus one is much more than three.

This is the first indication of a special type of hiring by CSU Monterey Bay’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS).

Three new faculty members started this fall in the areas of music and ethnic studies, namely assistant professors of music, Althea SullyCole and John Wineglass, and assistant professor of ethnic studies, Sriya Shrestha.

Each exhibits impressive accomplishments and plans for their degree programs as individual faculty members. Together, their interdepartmental potential could multiply their impact.

CAHSS Dean Juanita Cole describes “cluster hiring” as an emerging practice in higher education designed to spread new ideas across departments, cultures and campus interests.

“This is a recruitment practice known for increasing diversity and cross-disciplinary collaboration that is very popular among universities looking to diversify and advance research in specific areas,” she says.

A special allocation of funds for ethnic studies helped inspire the group’s recruitment, which included early orientation and discussions of collaborations around performances, programs, grants, and published articles. Cluster hiring helps recruitment but also retention.

“They matter and lean on each other,” adds Cole. “It helps ensure they are successful and have longevity.”

She observes a clear chemistry within the group, something that comes out in separate interviews.

“It’s a special cohort,” says Cole. “We struck gold here – it’s really good for CSUMB students.”

Here is an introduction to each:

Althea Sully Cole

Althea SullyCole, multi-instrumentalist, ethnomusicologist, singer and activist, spent 3 years in Senegal studying a 21-string West African harp called a kora. She has worked everywhere from Columbia University’s music department to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She’s collaborated with all manner of stars, from Royal Messenger to Lisette Santiago to her dad Bill Cole.

Through these experiences, several takeaways have emerged.

First, African and Afro-descendant musicians are generous with their wisdom.

“In Africa, musical knowledge and oral knowledge are disseminated through social ties,” she says. “Most of it was given to me for free, with kinship and generosity, and I feel invested in sharing.”

Second, in many places this knowledge is not so openly shared.

“Academia can be exclusive and expensive,” says SullyCole. “I feel an ethical imperative to make musical practice and knowledge accessible to as wide a population as possible. I feel like it’s the mission of CSU [system] and CSUMB’s music department.

Third, the democratization of music can go further than it does.

“People think music is a world accessible only to people with ineffable abilities,” she says. “One thing I often say: if you have a heartbeat, you are musical. I want to open students up to their own abilities and their own sound worlds…”

She is already enjoying the chance to work with her cohort, have intimate access to the Monterey Jazz Festival, and take a student-centered approach to teaching.

“Having worked in radio, live programming and as a touring artist, using these skills directly with students is a huge privilege,” she says.

Jean Wine glass

As a composer, Wineglass has won multiple Emmys, crafted complete symphonies, and received commissions from the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and the National Endowment for the Arts. So when it comes to hiring the cluster and being happy to “be a part of something that didn’t happen” it carries a bit more weight than if a less pioneering soul had said so. .

Wineglass is visibly thrilled to be returning to the classroom after a long stint writing and performing music.

” Its important to me. That’s how I got to where I am. It’s my way of giving back,” he says. “It’s also a way of regulating my life as an artist – what to do with all the experiences I’ve accumulated in my life? I love transmitting my knowledge to students, teaching my theory, refining my art. »

He adds that he looks forward to being “a conduit” from campus to the workforce, the music industry and the community.

“It’s pretty mind-blowing to spend my time doing something useful for the community while connecting students to the arts,” he says.

When the conversation returns to the cluster, the theme of connectivity remains: Wineglass notes that he looks forward to helping next year’s cluster class take advantage of the opportunities and cohesion his class already has.

“We got on well,” he said.

Sriya Shresta

Shrestha comes to the cluster well-acquainted with CSUMB, after years as an adjunct professor in the Humanities and Communication and Global Studies departments.

As she lectured in her areas of expertise (race and gender), she found inspiration in the attentive response of the CSUMB Otters.

“Our discussions of the history and current reality of structural inequality and institutional oppression are not simply an intellectual exercise,” she says. “These are tools for better understanding the dynamics [students] they have witnessed in their own lives, neighborhoods and communities.

Shrestha has always been fascinated by the “wider social dynamics that create the conditions of hardship and inequality”; one of her most recent articles explores a transnational and relational approach to global inequality.

She further finds that CSUMB’s founding mission—”to serve the diverse peoples of California, especially the working class and historically undereducated and low-income populations”—resonates with her teaching.

“I am happy to be part of this important work as a teacher, and I see it as a continuation of my commitment to social justice,” she says.

In the meantime, joining the cluster cohort has broadened her thoughts on how to honor that.

“Being a part of this has already broadened my thinking,” she says, “and stimulated ideas about the diverse ways we can work toward common goals using the tools and skills that are unique to each of us.”


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