An Update from Dean Cutietta to Thornton Faculty and Staff

April 1, 2020

Dear USC Thornton Faculty and Staff,

I hope you are all doing well in this unexpected and challenging time. We are returning to some semblance of normalcy, and yet we continue to actively seek solutions for the challenges we face across the school. With the goal of sharing regular information, even if plans are still being decided, here are the updates for the week.

COVID-19 Resources

There are two new websites I want to highlight. The university’s Coronavirus website is updated daily and is a comprehensive look at USC’s response. View the site >>

USC Thornton has created a website specific to the school including information on facilities, new academic policies, resources for students and faculty, and more. View the site >>

How is it going?

While none of us feel that our current modes of instruction are ideal, I’ve been heartened by what I’ve heard from students, faculty and staff. A “can do” attitude is pervasive. So many faculty have reported that things seem to be going well and there are aspects of these new teaching methods that may ultimately be included permanently in future instruction. Challenges persist, especially with collaborative music-making, but we seem to be meeting our obligation to students with creativity and new initiatives.

Results of Thornton Student Hardship Questionnaire

Jeff de Caen and our Operations staff are currently reviewing responses from the Thornton Student Hardship Questionnaire. The initial response indicates that many of our students are able to make the new reality work for them. While not ideal, they are still progressing.

However, there are specific cases where there is quite a bit of hardship. Space remains a major issue for some students, including finding an appropriate location to take online classes or practice. Other issues include internet limitations and not having access to instruments for practice.

We have begun addressing these issues as best we can. Between yesterday and today, as many as 20 electronic pianos have been rented and delivered to students in their homes. Percussion and drum kit solutions are also set to make their way to students this week.

Our Plans for Summer Semester and Fall 2020

No decisions have been made about summer semester yet. This is a topic of discussion with the Provost, and we expect an answer soon. Looking ahead to the Fall 2020 semester, we are proceeding with the assumption that Thornton will have returned to normal operations.

Facilities Update

In the spirit of making the best of this situation, we are launching a new construction project and plan to demolish the following buildings: Booth Hall, Ramo Hall, the Raubenheimer Music Faculty Building and The Music Complex.

On the vacated footprint, we will construct a groundbreaking facility of online learning. We plan to begin immediately because we feel we can have this completed by the next April Fool’s Day, exactly one year from today.

Those of you who know me know that I often turn to humor, and I’m ending with an April Fools Joke in the hope that it might elicit a few smiles. You’ve all adapted to our new normal with such grace and creativity. I am so proud of our school’s response.

That’s all for now. I will check in again next week or as information becomes available.Thank you,

Robert Cutietta
Dean, USC Thornton School of Music