The high turnover of department heads within the Department of Music
reflects the dysfunction that has plagued the Department of Music for years.
Personality conflicts among faculty were at the core of the dysfunction within the
Department. Faculty members and even staff were believed to keep “files” on
their colleagues, which contributed to an atmosphere of distrust. In fact, Professor
Miller was notorious for saying that he had “files” on people. He was in the center
of these personality conflicts, with numerous complaints—mostly informal—
raised by other faculty members about his incivility and disruptive conduct.
Several witnesses also attributed the problems within the Department of
Music to Dean Woods’s leadership style and his desire to avoid confrontation by
not definitively addressing the lack of civility among the faculty. Other witnesses
observed that the high turnover of department heads led to a leadership void within
the Department of Music and, furthermore, depleted the applicant pool for
prospective department heads from outside the University as the Department of
Music’s reputation as “a hornets’ nest” spread around the country.
To be sure, many universities experience personality conflicts among their
faculty members. With tenured faculty in particular, it can be difficult for
department heads and deans to resolve those conflicts unless the conduct violates
university policies. Moreover, it is not uncommon for there to be conflict within
university music departments in establishing priorities between performance and
education, and there was an element of this tension within UConn’s Department of
Music as well. However, the problems within the Department, which persisted
despite former University President Philip E. Austin’s direction to the provosts
who served under him to have them addressed, certainly were outside the norm.
Reading this report in full gave me a greater appreciation for the struggles of those of us who have trying to do good work, and who have tried to maintain high standards of personal integrity amid all of the nonsense going on around us. My persistent struggles with exhaustion, depression, and isolation make even more sense now.