EducationLocal NewsUNT Investigating Professor for Controversial Article in Music Journal

The UNT College of Music is investigating claims of racism against a professor who defended a 20th-century Austrian music theorist in a journal published by the school.
August 5, 2020
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A professor at the University of North Texas (UNT) could lose his job after the public university announced it would investigate him for an article that he published in a campus journal. 

Dr. Timothy Jackson is facing criticism by some graduate students for writing a defense of Heinrich Schenker, an Austrian music theorist who died in 1935. The defense was published in the Journal of Schenkerian Studies, an annual, peer-reviewed UNT publication.

Jackson’s published comments were primarily in response to the views of Dr. Phillip Ewell, who has said that “there exists a ‘white racial frame’ in music theory.”

“The University of North Texas College of Music has begun a formal investigation into the conception and production of the twelfth volume of the Journal of Schenkerian Studies, which is published by the Center for Schenkerian Studies and UNT Press,” UNT said in a statement.

“The University, the College of Music, and the Division of Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology reaffirm our dedication to combatting [sic] racism on campus and across all academic disciplines.”

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A group of graduate students in the UNT College of Music released a statement on social media listing complaints about Jackson and the Journal of Schenkerian Studies itself. The statement included a number of demands that included disciplining and possibly firing faculty members, including Jackson, and dissolving the journal.

“This should also extend to investigating past bigoted behaviors by faculty and, by taking this into account, the discipline and potential removal of faculty who used the [Journal of Schenkerian Studies] platform to promote racism,” the students said.

Kelly Neidert, president of the UNT chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas, characterized the events as a witch hunt that is part of a campus culture that is eager to replace Caucasian faculty members and punish dissent from progressive viewpoints.

“If a white faculty member does anything that UNT students disagree with, the left-wing groups on campus take their chance and run with it,” Neidert told The Texan. “These student groups don’t tolerate any opinions that are different from their own. Students will do everything they can to get rid of them.”

Neidert emphasized that this is a hot button issue because UNT is known for its music programs.

UNT has been criticized for violating the First Amendment rights of faculty members. In April, a mathematics professor sued the university after being fired for joking about the concept of microaggressions in a faculty breakroom.

The Texan has contacted Dr. Jackson for comment.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.