After 25 Years at KPU, Music Instructor Don Hlus Has Been Laid Off

Shutting down intake to the music program limits work for music instructors, who are now being laid off after decades at the university

Don Hlus, KPU guitar professor, was laid off in August. (kpu.ca)

KPU Music Instructor and Director of Guitar Don Hlus has “regrettably accepted” a full layoff.

The layoff comes after a recent suspension of student intake into KPU’s music program, which is impacting the workload of the music faculty.

“Regarding my own situation, I don’t anticipate returning to KPU and part of me simply wants to look forward and focus on creating my future rather than looking back to the past,” Hlus wrote in an email to The Runner.

“However, I also want the entire story to be heard,” he wrote.

Hlus was offered a reduced workload for the fall 2019 semester because of a “shortage of operating funds” and the suspension of intake to the music program.

“It was clear that I could no longer support this administration nor continue to work in an incredibly unhealthy environment when I considered, that last winter, the university announced a $12 million deficit while giving senior administrators and their offices a $5.7 million increasem,” he remarks.

“A few months later, the university announced a $22 million surplus… while continuing to destroy several good programs.”

Hlus feels that, in the 26 years that he’s worked for KPU, he has “never seen morale amongst faculty so low.”

“The loss of faculty positions is not the main story,” Hlus wrote. The main story, according to him, is the “loss of opportunities and services to the students and the community KPU serves.”

He explains that this is more significant to him because KPU’s music program is the only degree-granting program south of the Fraser River, a region with a rapidly growing population.

“I understand the university wants to get more return for its investment, which I applaud,” he continues. “But suspending intake was foolish and reckless. I served on one of the university curriculum committees for nearly 15 years and during that time, not one program had its intake suspended so that a program review could be conducted.”

Hlus calls the suspension of intake to the music program a “betrayal of trust [to] the marketplace, students, and the community,” even if KPU’s music diploma gets revamped in the future.

“Once trust has dissolved, the marketplace will no longer support that service. Students will go elsewhere, even if it is inconvenient or more expensive,” he wrote.

“In my mind, staying at KPU meant I would be tacitly approving and supporting the actions of the university. I don’t, so I informed the university that I would regrettably be accepting a full layoff. It is disappointing and a sad way to end my time at KPU but I am looking forward to my future.”

In an email statement, KPU administrative staff informed The Runner that “at this time, [they] have no new information” regarding the situation with the music program.

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