Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dominique-René de Lerma to Howard Reich: 'Your calm coverage of the problems of the [CBMR] is profoundly appreciated'

Barbara Wright-Pryor, President of the Chicago Music Association, forwards an email from Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma to Howard Reich of The Chicago Tribune:

“Dear Colleagues,

This is Dominique-René de Lerma's reply to Howard Reich in re: his recent articles revealing the possible closing of CBMR and CJE published in The Chicago Tribune. Please note: It is NOT confidential.
My regards,

Barbara Wright-Pryor 
Chicago Music Association” 

Subject: CBMR
To: Howard Reich, The Chicago Tribune
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 5:05 AM

“Dear Sir:
Your calm coverage of the problems of the Center for Black Music Research is profoundly appreciated and have been read here and abroad by those who hold the Center in very highest regard.

“I have been a personal friend and professional associate of Dr. Samuel A. Floyd, founder of the Center, for 46 years and I remember that time, almost 30 years ago, when he told me he had been invited to develop the Center at Columbia College. The news was so welcomed, after knowing how his dreams had been frustrated elsewhere, that I did little more than ask what was Columbia College, not pausing to express a concern that the project would be more appropriate at an established institution already recognized for its support of research and advanced studies. I have not had a discussion with him on any matter, however, in more than a year.

“I cannot speak about the College's financial considerations, but I do give emphasis to my understanding that this was an invitation, thereby carrying an implicit obligation of support. It is not Sam's fault, nor those who followed him after his retirement, that the Center became an extraordinary success of world importance.

“Off-campus funds were secured for special projects. The avenue was opened for individual donations and for subscriptions to the Center's scholarly products. The Archives became possible with a grant from the Ford Foundation when I donated a large portion of my personal library -- to the Center, by the way, not to the College, and with the legal understanding the materials could not be moved from the Center. Priceless materials came with many other donations, with the same understanding. It is offensively ungracious of the administration to ignore music estates thusly entrusted to the Center and to express the thought that we also had the financial obligation to provide support. With 14 years experience as Music Librarian for Indiana University, I am quite sensitive to the responsibility of a library to serve all of the public, and that a non-profit institution, such as Columbia College, should expect no less.

I am one of many who have seen and admired the faculty Blueprint report, but we are also alerted to the possibility the Center's library and archives may be subject to incorporation with a unit outside of the Center. The donors and other supporters of the Center cannot permit this to happen.

“It does not seem likely that the June decision will be one we will support. Columbia College can save itself additional international disgrace if it will seek the transfer of the entire operation -- staff, projects, and materials -- to an institution with an interest and recognized potential to accept the mission and nurture its growth. A request for an appointment to discuss this possibility with the president has quite recently been denied!

“While I submit this by myself, I have been in extensive communication this month with virtually the entire corpus of Black music scholars, on four continents. I have no reason to doubt they will be in full accord.

“Thank you for your most valuable reporting.
Dominique-René de Lerma, Ph. D.
Appleton WI”

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