The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus



Students rally in support of dance


More than 30 dance students rallied in support of professorLarry White on Monday morning.

White, who has taught at SMU for five years, is facing the endof his one-year contract.

A majority of the dance students want White to continue on as aprofessor with the university.

“It’s almost an embarrassment for our school to belosing him because he’s so well-known and respected. We areafraid for the reputation of the department,” senior dancemajor Stephanie Wright said.

The rally ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students did not attendtheir classes in Meadows, although they did try to attend otherclasses and participate in the rally whenever possible.

“It’s not that we don’t want to be in class.We want to make sure Larry will be here to teach us class,”sophomore dance major Caitlin Swihart said.

Students cheered for White when he came outside to greetthem.

At one point, while drums beat in the background, studentsleaped and twirled in a circle, while others yelled, “Who dowe want? Larry! When do we want him? Now!”

“I love it. It’s very gratifying to know that I havethis kind of support, and they’re willing to show theirsupport,” White said.

“That’s a part of education … to see issuesand decide that they want to take steps to have a say in theireducation.” he said.

The probationary period for tenure is six years, Associate DeanKevin Hofeditz said.

At the end of three years, professors are given an invitation tocontinue on the tenure track.

If they are not encouraged to continue, they are allowed afourth year under contract.

White was denied tenure two years ago and stayed for a fourthyear.

The dance faculty, who met with Brandt a year ago, requested arenewable contract for White, but only got his contract extendedfor another year.

“We were told that one year was the best that she coulddo,” Montoya said.

As things stand, White will not be teaching after thissemester.

About 67 dance students signed a petition, which was sent toDean Carol Brandt on April 2.

Three student representatives then met with Brandt and Hofeditzlast Wednesday to discuss their concerns.

In a letter to students on Thursday, Brandt commended studentsfor their actions, but said there is a procedure that must befollowed.

A formal proposal and recommendation must be submitted from thefaculty concerning White’s employment.

“It is unfortunate that the task of bringing this to myattention … fell to you, our students,” shestated.

“But had you not taken the initiative to do so, it wouldstill not have reached my office,” she said.

Brandt also stated that she has not heard anything from thefaculty regarding White’s contract since last year.

Montoya said that the faculty was under the impression that theone-year extension granted last year was the final extension.

“The students happened to get to the dean before thefaculty. [The faculty] is not interested in using the students tobolster our ideas,” Montoya said.

The dean, who is also searching for a chairperson for the dancedivision, said no decision can be made in a vacuum and that allcircumstances will be taken into account.

Brandt said the administration will try to reach a resolutionand get back to students by April 21.

Students learned that White may not return a few months ago anddecided to take action before the semester was over.

The dance faculty did not know of their plans.

“He’s provided [students] with a high level oftechnical instruction and a deep sense of the heart and soul as thewellsprings of art,” Montoya said.

“Were he not an outstanding teacher, the students wouldnot be reacting like this,” he said.

First-year dance major Morgan Palmer remembered watching one ofhis White’s classes and being drawn in.

She said that without White, the department would lose animportant dynamic.

White teaches a unique style of modern dance based on the Grahamtechnique.

“[Graham technique] is not something many people canteach. It’s a gift,” Palmer said.

White, a former principal dancer in the Martha Graham Company,has taught at SMU for five years.

In addition to choreographing pieces for his own companies,Larry White and Friends and MOVINGStill, he has performed in theU.S. and abroad.

White taught at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance,the Alvin Ailey Dance School and the Hong Kong Academy forPerforming Arts.

White said that he has thought about his future if he does notcontinue on with SMU, but there is “nothing more thanpossibilities at this point.”


Michael Snyder contributed to this report.

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