The college’s music department is searching for a replacement for music lecturer Thomas Dirks.
The replacement will take over all of Dirks’ duties as band director, as well as take on the additional responsibility of conducting and recruiting for the band and string ensemble.
The question of whether or not Dirks is voluntarily retiring or being forced to leave is the cause of confusion for band students.
“People have been – from what I know – telling lies,” junior clarinetist Wanda Gaines said. “The students keep getting told that professor Dirks is retiring, and that is why they’re replacing him. But he’s really not retiring. We had asked him that, and he says they’re just asking him to leave.”
Other students say they have been told very little about the situation.
However, Casey Hayes, music department chair, said it has been the complete opposite.
“All of the band students and all of the string students have been completely told exactly what’s going on,” Hayes said. “Professor Dirks is retiring. He is stepping down.”
Hayes said he is willing to answer questions from concerned students.
There are some additional issues students find concerning.
For upperclassmen, it’s the music department’s actions.
“My biggest fear is that I just don’t want people lying about this situation in order to try and manipulate people to go along with it,” Gaines said. “I understand that they need to bring new people in. It’s eventually going to happen. Professors leave.”
For underclassmen, the concerns are twofold.
“I definitely want him to go out on good terms because he has done good things in the music world,” sophomore clarinetist Andrea Underwood said. “But I’m also kind of concerned about when we make the switch to a new director that they’ll be able to fix what we have here and not just completely start over and erase everything we have done so far.”
Hayes reassures there is no bad blood between Dirks and the music department.
“I brought Professor Dirks in. I asked him to take the position,” Hayes said. “He is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and he agreed to stay for four or five years until we could hire somebody else.”
At the end of the day, the students hope the music department chooses the right replacement.
“The people that will be choosing the new director are from Franklin,” Underwood said. “They know what is necessary.”
The music department will submit their decision for Dirks’ replacement to president Thomas Minar and the school board by early March.