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Save Our Conservatory

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To the Members of the Board of Governors of Mount Royal University:

Chairman Bryan Pinney; President David Docherty; Messrs. Jim Campbell, Daryl Fridhandler, Paul Kundan, and Rusty Martel; Drs. David Clemis and Alykhan Nanji; Mses. Shifrah Gadamsetti, Eleanor Chiu, and Jennifer Pierce:

We, the students, alumni, parents, donors, and supporters of the Mount Royal University Conservatory, have recently been informed of the termination of Mr. John Kadz and the abolishment of Mr. Bill van der Sloot’s position as Manager of the Academy Program for Gifted Youth, Advanced Performance Program, and Choral Programs. These terminations came without warning and without cause. They are the continuation of a long streak of departures at the Conservatory coinciding with the Conservatory’s struggles with the senior administration - a streak that has included the losses of Paul Dornian, Director; Sheldon Nadler, Manager of Orchestral and Other Programs; Ab O’Neil, Manager of Theatres and Support Services; and now Messrs. van der Sloot and Kadz. These most recent terminations leave zero full-time staff in management positions at the Conservatory and mark the loss of its most senior faculty. As students, alumni, families, donors, friends, and taxpayers, we are shocked, outraged, and perplexed by this decision, and we refuse to accept the systematic demolition of our Conservatory, its programs, and the benefit it brings to the entire Mount Royal community.

The Conservatory is internationally recognized as an elite institution; you don’t need to look far to find a staggering list of alumni, which includes the names Yuja Wang, Nikki Chooi, and Jan Lisiecki, among many others. It has put Calgary on the map as a leader in the arts due to its outstanding programs, management, and faculty, and it has done so while both being supported by and contributing immensely to the Mount Royal community. The Conservatory does not only attract superb students from across the globe - it has been cultivating excellence in Calgary’s, and Alberta’s young people for decades, and has established itself as a flagship for educational greatness in our city and country.

It is the responsibility of Mount Royal, as a public institution, to contribute meaningfully to the society which funds it. Understanding this, previous administrations have had the wisdom and foresight to invest in the Conservatory, aware that it attracts students to other programs, inspires leadership across the student body, and elevates the entire school. It is our belief that the legacy of the current administration will be one of destruction, dismantling a world-class institution to the detriment of all current and future students at Mount Royal.

Messrs. Kadz and van der Sloot are two of the most outstanding employees the University has ever had. Both have contributed enormously to their field at Mount Royal and far beyond; their termination is bewildering, and the loss will be immeasurable. The irresponsibility of this decision calls into hard question the competence of Mount Royal’s administration and points to leadership that appears strikingly short-sighted, feckless, and inept. Is this truly the way to encourage the pursuit of excellence in the young people who walk through your doors?

Mount Royal is publicly mandated to “serve(s) its communities by providing… through its internationally recognized conservatory, music instruction particularly for younger people” and to “support(s) scholarly activity that contributes to instructional excellence and to the cultural, social and economic well-being of the community locally, provincially, nationally and internationally.” The Conservatory is a pillar of excellence at Mount Royal, with a cultural impact and legacy that is exceptional in strength and scope. To fail to preserve this is to fail the mandates set by this University, the communities it serves, and multiple generations of young people.

It is the responsibility of the governing board to protect future students from the terrible decisions of a few people. We ask that you hold these people accountable and that you protect our Conservatory, our outstanding faculty and staff, our incredible programs, and the excellence it inspires in our school and community.

This petition calls for the reinstatement of Messrs. John Kadz and Bill van der Sloot, and any additional remedial actions to be determined by the governing board to protect the future of the Conservatory and the future of Mount Royal University.

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