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Cleveland Institute of Music faculty declares 'no-confidence' in leadership

A person walks past the concrete and glass Cleveland Institute of Music Kulas Hall. A tree and tulips are in the foreground.
Annie Wu
Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland Institute of Music's faculty senate voted "no-confidence" in both the school's president and provost amid a year of turmoil.

After a year of turmoil and conflict, Cleveland Institute of Music leadership is again under fire. The CIM faculty senate issued a statement Friday stating they had voted "no confidence" in President Paul Hogle and Provost Scott Harrison.

The faculty's resolution stated that the school "faces its most dangerous financial situation in decades" and has become uncompetitive in attracting students.

It also cited a great deal of staff turnover since Hogle took the helm in 2016. Faculty accused him of disregarding complaints from students and faculty. As part of the no-confidence vote, Hogle was also criticized for a 26.3% raise in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since early 2023, the school has been rocked by controversy, starting with the Title IX investigation into allegations of misconduct against Carlos Kalmar, head of CIM’s conducting program. He was cleared, but student protests followed, along with a petition calling for the resignations of Hogle and CIM Board Chair Susan Rothmann. Journalist Anne Midgette also withdrew as commencement speaker in the wake of the Title IX investigation.

Kalmar entered a leave of absence in the fall but is still listed on the CIM website. In January, he filed suit against the school, saying it violated his rights to confidentiality by using his name in an email announcing the initial Title IX investigation.

CIM also cut 15% of its administrative staff in July 2023.

Renowned Cleveland Orchestra trumpeter Michael Sachs resigned in October after 35 years with the institute. In December, more than 70 current and former students asked the school to consider re-establishing a relationship with Sachs, saying that CIM had “lost credibility.” The school released a general response to the issues in October.

Ideastream Public Media is seeking comment about the no-confidence vote.

The faculty senate's full statement on President Paul Hogle:

WHEREAS CIM faces its most dangerous financial situation in decades, is running its first budget deficit in decades, and faces the difficulty of recruiting students with an uncompetitive discount rate for the foreseeable future;

WHEREAS President Paul Hogle has overseen a debilitating turnover of over 120 members of the staff, including eighteen in Development (including seven Chief Development Officers), eleven in Concerts and Events, ten in the Deans Office, nine in Marketing, and eight in Admissions, as well as unprecedented levels of resignations, causing substantial problems with continuity, institutional knowledge, and competency;

WHEREAS President Hogle appointed Scott Harrison to the position of Provost, who lacks any of the traditional qualifications, credentials, and experience required for the role of Provost to the position, leading to serious mismanagement of the Institute’s academic and artistic affairs, as well as repeated actions in violation of traditional academic standards and norms, as well as CIM and HLC policies;

WHEREAS President Hogle disregarded and/or ignored repeated complaints by students, staff, and faculty about the orchestra situation at CIM during the 2022-23 season, including ignoring the recommendations of the Orchestra 2.0 Task Force, as well as a fall 2022 survey of CIM orchestral musicians which was damning in its result;

WHEREAS President Hogle’s leadership style is ill-suited to an academic environment which relies on consensus-building and compromise in decision-making;

WHEREAS President Hogle accepted a raise of $111,282 (26.3%) between the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years while simultaneously guiding CIM into its first deficit in 30 years and advising faculty that merit-based or cost-of-living raises would not be expected for several years;

WHEREAS morale among faculty and staff is at a level detrimental to the functioning of the institution and advancement of its mission;

WHEREAS the once-great reputation of CIM has been severely diminished at a national and international level;

WHEREAS the aforementioned misdeeds have significantly jeopardized CIM’s ability to pass its 2025 comprehensive HLC accreditation site visit;

WHEREAS CIM is hungry for new, positive leadership which looks to the future and understands the educational challenges – and opportunities – facing the Institute and the young musician of the 21st century in a rapidly changing landscape. CIM needs leadership which will restore morale, inspire the faculty and staff, and renew trust in the Office of the President. CIM needs a leader with the temperament, education, academic experience, and shared values to lead us into our next century;

Therefore, we the Faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music are expressing a vote of NO CONFIDENCE in Paul Hogle.

The CIM faculty senate's statement on Provost Scott Harrison:

Whereas Scott Harrison was appointed Provost by the President despite lacking the traditional credentials (an earned doctorate degree and extensive academic administrative experience, often as a dean or senior faculty member intimately familiar with the norms and standards of academia and the concept and role of shared governance) required for the role of provost at an institution of higher education;

Whereas Provost Harrison has zero prior experience in academic administration and has never served on a university faculty senate, academic committee, or other governing body and has never managed an academic department or college;

Whereas his lack of credentials and relevant experience have led Provost Harrison to repeatedly violate norms of shared governance, disregard faculty consultation, and make decisions detrimental to the Institute, including;

- Overseeing alarming faculty/staff turnover due to toxic working conditions, stagnant salaries, and one-year contracts

- Showing a lack of fundamental understanding of basic management of academic areas and ensembles, leading to serious logistical and artistic issues that negatively impact the quality of offerings and well-being of students

- Attempting to unilaterally restructure the faculty in disregard for the role of shared governance and commonly accepted established academic norms and procedures

- Creation and modification of academic programs without the approval of faculty or the Curriculum Committee, as outlined in institution policy

- Refusing transparency in appointing a new Title IX investigator, causing confusion and distrust

- Replacing a unanimously supported department head without proper faculty consultation and against clearly defined policy, as outlined in the Faculty Handbook

- Refusing to follow standards of academic pay and benefits to candidates to join the faculty, resulting in loss of competitive talent to peer institutions

Whereas Provost Harrison's lack of qualifications and actions have compromised CIM's accreditation standards with the Higher Learning Commission;

Whereas the faculty have lost all confidence and trust in Provost Harrison's ability to fulfill the duties of the position;

Therefore, we the Faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music are expressing a vote of NO CONFIDENCE in Scott Harrison.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.