Don Hlus, director of guitar at KPU, said cuts to the music program are the direct result of the university decision to open a fifth campus in Surrey, a claim the university rejects. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

Sour notes sounded: Cause of KPU music admission freeze disputed

Critics claim cuts are because university lost money opening new Surrey campus, KPU denies charge

The debate over recent cuts to the music program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley is heating up, with critics claiming admission were canceled because of a pricey decision to open a fifth campus in Surrey, while the university defends the move.

Last year KPU announced it purchased five floors in the new Civic Hotel, located at 13475 Central Ave., and said the campus will have capacity for 300 to 400 students.

Don Hlus, director of guitar at KPU, said the move “wasn’t just a bad decision, it was an ugly one.”

“The proposed cuts are simply a smoke-screen to divert our attention away from the fact that we didn’t have the money expand to a fifth campus.”

Hlus warned the decision to cancel music program admissions “will essentially kill the program.”

“Once the news gets out into the marketplace that we have ceased accepting applications for entry into the music program, we are essentially done,” Hlus said.

“I don’t believe we will be able to recover from this nose dive.”

Hlus added that during his tenure as chair of the music department, from 2012 to 2018, it operated “within the budget given us.”

In response to a request for comment by the Langley Times Advance, the university issued a written statement by Dr. Sal Ferreras, KPU’s provost and vice president, who defended the decision to expand into Surrey and predicting the university will have a balanced budget by 2020.

“KPU is set to deliver a balanced budget of $225 million next year,” the statement said.

Ferreras went to say capital funds, such as those used to purchase Civic Plaza, cannot be used to fund academic programs.

“With the university previously operating close to capacity, Civic Plaza is a new outlet available for strategic growth.”

READ MORE: Music students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University battle cuts

After letter writer Natalia Kondratayeva complained the administration at KPU was building a new campus at the expense of the music program and warned the decision to eliminate first year admissions would “kill” the music program, KPU Dean of Arts Diane Purvey issued a written response that said the music program was “unsustainable.”

“KPU is not closing the program and, in fact, is trying to save it,” Purvey said.

“The university runs it at a loss and any growth in the program only adds to that loss.”

Purvey said the program costs exceed revenue by a ratio greater of two-to-one and the music program costs “nearly five times more than the average KPU program to run.”

“Accordingly, our music offerings need to be revisioned as part of the university’s broader fiscal plan,” Purvey said.

“To conduct a revisioning process without disrupting the academic path of students already in a program, it was necessary for KPU to cancel the 2019-20 academic year intake. “

Purvey said that decision “created space” to make changes that would “deliver music in a way that supports students into a career.”

KPU has two other campuses in Surrey (in Newton at 12666 72nd Ave. and in Cloverdale at 5500 180th St.) as well as a campus in Richmond at 8771 Lansdowne Rd., and another in Langley at 20901 Langley Bypass.

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