NORMAN, Okla. – The American Organ Institute at the University of Oklahoma will be closed by the end of this academic year despite efforts to keep it open by students and alumni.
Founded in 2006, AOI at OU is considered a one-of-a-kind organ music program with an emphasis on pipe organ construction and improvisation, along with organ performance.
Nolan Reilly, an AOI alumni, told the OU Daily, “The university told us we needed an $8.5 million endowment to keep the doors open in perpetuity. $5 million of that was supposed to come from (the Wyncote Foundation), and (the) university called them and told them that they were not able to contribute to the AOI because they had already made the decision to close.”
So far, $6.6 million has been raised to prevent the closure by supporters.
OU officials say there are currently 12 students, undergraduate and graduate, who have remaining required courses in the organ management and repair program.
The degree-earning programs for organ (bachelor, master and doctorate of music) will continue as significant offerings in the School of Music.
On Thursday, OU released a statement saying:
“The decision to close the organ technology and repair program was a difficult, but necessary one. The closure comes out of an extensive evaluation of the program’s sustainability, as well as a high-level, comprehensive financial review of the entire University in an effort to achieve fiscal responsibility. OU took steps to reconsider the closure after multiple meetings at all levels with concerned supporters, students and employees; however, a long-term plan did not develop. Despite generous offers from supporters, there is still not a viable plan to maintain the program and avoid the same challenges in the future that we face today. The University appreciates the input received from supporters of the program. The review process has been an inclusive one from the start; however, it cannot be a continual one. Our students will continue to be supported, and the long tradition of organ music education at the OU College of Fine Arts will endure.”