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Interview with Dr. Garry Owens, Department Chair
School of Music Texas Tech University

C.M. Sunday © 2014

Companion piece to: Administration of Postsecondary Music Departments
Please consult Citation Style Guides for citation formats.

I requested a brief interview with Dr. Owens, sending him my six questions in advance via email; he was very generous with his time, and gave me nearly an hour in this taped interview. He began the interview by talking about how most chairs have so little administrative training, which was consistent with my research.

1. Is there a formal organizational chart for the Music Department? If not, can you give me enough information so that I can design an approximate flow chart?

Dr. Owens did not have a chart for me, but described this configuration:

He has two Associate Directors. The administrative people at this point report directly to Dr. Owens, rather than the Associate Directors. He has an Administrative Council, which is the two Associate Directors and himself, which meets weekly. He also has an Executive Committee which are all the Executive Chairs, which are really not a part of the school administrative structure but rather, part of the academic structure; wind and percussion, strings, keyboards, music education, music theory/composition, music history/literature, conducting, and an ad hoc member. So that group meets biweekly to discuss things. He's in the midst of reorganizing the administrative structure, so that's what he has at this point but down the road it will be a little bit different. He would like to see the area chairs be a little bit more responsible for their areas and perhaps meet more often with him individually.

2. Do you have a formal, written position description. Or if not, in general, what are your responsibilities?

Dr. Owens gave me copies of the first six pages of the music faculty handbook, which gives job descriptions for his position and that of his two Associate Directors. Dr. Owens' job description is one page in length and only covers the five areas of General Administration, Personnel, Budget, Public Relations and Fund Raising, and Other. But his responsibilities include all faculty issues, annual review, promotion and tenure, student affairs, fund raising and development, budget, staff appointment and review, signing documents, review of dissertations, liaison to the Dean, strategic planning, development, curriculum, business operation, facilities (including parking issues, at times); basically everything in the unit comes to him, either directly or indirectly. But basically faculty issues. The whole administrative operation; staff appointments, staff reviews. Everything that goes to the Dean is his responsibility, including summer camps. He also believes strongly in delegating responsibility: you hire good people and let them do their job, and don't try to do their jobs for them. "That's my basic style...But mostly what I spend my time on is faculty issues, development, vision kinds of things, strategic planning, curriculum. Bob Henry handles a lot of the curriculum stuff, I just sort of handle the vision part of it. Business operations, facilities. Parking. Oh, and I also teach. I wasn't supposed to be teaching, but we had a faculty position that didn't get filled. I have only one class per term and I'm also observing student teachers, which is my background."

3. How does your position fit into the broader structure of the university?

Department chair; Arts & Science Dean, Provost, Vice President, President, Chancellor, Board of Regents and/or legislature. That's one of the things we're all talking about now is that we're looking for a new Chancellor, somebody that every two years can interface with that group in Austin, plus the Chancellor does the brunt of fundraising for the whole university.

4. In terms of time commitment, how do your responsibilities break down?

Varies; if we have a deadline it's pretty much 100% on everything; if the Dean says we need something by tomorrow then we get it down by tomorrow. You drop everything else. I do this for NASM. Around 20% teaching, 55% administrative, broad scope, and the remaining, fund raising, grants, development, that kind of thing in general. Administration being everything I told you.

5. Are there any source materials for policies and procedures that you rely on? For example: handbooks, catalogs, memos, websites. How detailed are these?

The whole university operates on OP's, the operating policies and procedures. There are volumes. We're looking at some issues on distribution on handbills, so I had somebody just copy these out. One of the few places I've been where actually there's reasonably broad distribution of these things. Here we have, and Mel is the keeper of the OPS, I think there are three large three-ring binders, and they're reviewed every couple of years. They're online. They send out new pages. They're fairly detailed. There's an index, but some of the things, you know, you have to just go through--you deal with some more than others. Obviously, very specific set of particulars for all of those issues. We have a faculty handbook, graduate student handbook, undergraduate handbook. Mission statement in here.

6. How do you go about changing policies, or putting new policies in place?

Changing university policy is a little bit more complicated; I'm not sure that I know. I'm not sure I know how that gets done. I've only been here two years. In terms of our policies, what I would be apt to do in nearly all circumstances is discuss it first with my administrative council because these people have great history here. "Is there any reason why" kinds of questions. We tried to go that direction back in 1960.

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