Chancellor plans marching band

Jessica Johnson

UW Oshkosh is planning to start a marching band within the next few years to improve school spirit, enrollment and benefits for the music department. According to Chancellor Andrew Leavitt, a marching band would provide a very popular co-curricular activity for students on campus. “A lot of students on campus had a great marching band in high school, and I think they would love to continue that,” Leavitt said. Leavitt also said the marching band would help in terms of recruitment. “It is often an activity that students in school look for when they are looking at universities,” Leavitt said. Leavitt said more students would participate in the music department. “I think it is something that would be very beneficial to the department of music in that a lot more students will become involved in the department of music because of a marching band,” Leavitt said. According to Leavitt, the marching band is in the beginning stages of starting up. “There are going to be startup costs associated with the marching band, and then of course on-going costs,” Leavitt said. “I will certainly be looking for some philanthropic help. We need someone to step up and make a donation to help us start a marching band.” Leavitt said due to the budget cuts, it is critical for on-going costs to be taken care of through a combination of fundraising and institutional support. Leavitt said UWO has a permanent band director who will start on July 1, 2015. “They will be the director of bands, but that person would not necessarily be involved in running of the marching band,” Leavitt said. According to Leavitt, there has not been much discussion of the staffing needs of the marching band since it is at its initial stages. “I’m sensitive to the fact that we are talking about starting something like this in an environment where we are looking at reducing budgets, but at the same time I think this is going to be a terrific addition to the campus that could help [us],” Leavitt said. Leavitt said UWO needs to move away from thinking there are hiring freezes when it is really more of a critical-hiring process. “We have a critical hiring process through which I am personally evaluating a recommendation from each vice-chancellor as to the critical hires they need in their areas,” Leavitt said. Leavitt said starting up a marching band is contradictory to the current budget concerns, but it would be worth it. “It seems counterintuitive I suppose to try and start this in the middle of all this, but I think it’s something that would add an awful lot to the University,” Leavitt said. “I think it would bring a lot of energy, spirit and enthusiasm.” According to Leavitt, there is not a firm date set for the start of a marching band. “We are probably a couple years away from starting one simply because of the fundraising that would need to be involved, and then we would have to have at least one year of recruitment in order to build the band before it actually hits the field,” Leavitt said. Erica Kennedy, a member of the UWO orchestra, said she is in favor of a campus marching band. “Marching bands are a big part of school spirit, especially at sporting events,” Kennedy said. “I think that it would increase interest in our sporting events, and also give spotlight to our excellent music department.” UWO band and choir member Ryan Lindley said he is not in favor of implementing a marching band. “Starting and maintaining a marching band would cost a lot of money,” Lindley said. “I personally would want to put that kind of money towards something else in the music department.” Lindley said students, along with the chancellor, should start a pep band before taking the leap to start a marching band. “Pep bands do not have to be relatively large, and they’re less work and more enjoyable,” Lindley said. “You can be closer to the students and interact with them to boost morale and lead cheers.” Lindley said a pep band would be more accessible and cheaper idea. Sam Joseph, a UWO band member, said a marching band is not only a great opportunity for students, but for the community as a whole. “I went to UW-Eau Claire for three years and during my time there, the Bluegold Marching Band drew an even bigger crowd than the football team alone, which in turn, allows for more revenue, future opportunities and more publicity to draw prospective students to the school,” Joseph said. “I think that if a marching band were to form at UWO, we would see some of the same benefits.”