Dr. Gary Sousa fired as UT band director, will retain faculty position

Dr. Gary Sousa
Dr. Gary Sousa

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The University of Tennessee has fired Dr. Gary Sousa as director of the Pride of the Southland Band, but he will retain his faculty position in the school of music.

Sousa was put on administrative leave for insubordination in October 2013.

News of Sousa being ousted is disheartening for alumni. “For me it’s very upsetting. I was part of the wind ensemble as well as Pride of the Southland as a music major,” said marching band alumni Erica Cooter.

A letter from Chancellor Jimmy Cheek addressed to Sousa says the university’s review of Sousa’s actions last fall confirmed the insubordination.

“Your own statements – in October, during your interview, and in your written response yesterday – demonstrate that you allowed your relationships with key university officials to deteriorate to the point that it is no longer possible for you to serve effectively as director of bands,” said Cheek in the letter.

UT officials said in October that Sousa’s promotion of misleading claims to alumni and band members created a divisive and counterproductive environment.

Sousa encouraged students and alumni to speak out against the Athletics Department over reduced playing time and reductions in travel and budget.

Sousa sent a letter to Cheek on Oct. 1, outlining the problems he saw with the program, including a reduction in the band travel budget and what he called “an ever-increasing fight for performance time during football games against relentless athletic marketing.”

In a letter to Sousa, Provost Susan Martin noted, “Competition for resources and conflict between competing interests within the university are normal. Your actions to circumvent the normal methods of conflict resolution are shockingly insubordinate.”

Sousa was allowed to return to the classroom at the start of the spring semester.

Sousa’s firing as director of bands takes effect on March 31, 2014. His appointment as WJ Julian fellow will also end on that date, reducing Sousa’s salary from $155,000 to $105,000.

“It just won’t be the same without him,” added Cooter.

Dr. Don Ryder will continue to serve as interim director of bands. The university intends to do a national search at some point in the future.

Pride of the Southland Alumni President Rob Clark says Dr. Sousa was simply trying to stand up for his program and he’s taken the fall. Clark adds it’s disheartening because he says Dr. Sousa has done wonderful things at UT.

  • http://wate.com/2015/01/29/ryder-stewart-named-permanent-directors-of-uts-pride-of-the-southland-band/ Ryder, Stewart named permanent directors of UT’s Pride of the Southland Band

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