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(PC: Andrew Hodowanec/Observer)

Cleveland Institute of Music Students Instigate Petition

Involving 200 signatures, the student-written petition is calling for the resignation of the institute’s president and CEO and board chair


Students of the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) have released a four-page document petitioning the resignation of CIM’s president and CEO Paul Hogle and chair of the board Dr. Susan Rothmann

Supported by 200 current student signatures and addressed to the CIM board of trustees, the petition alleges that Hogle and Rothmann have not “maintain[ed] transparency or honesty with the community;” “have diminished the prestige and reputation of the institution;” and “address[ed] the community in a manner that is threatening, oppressive, and patronizing.”

“We, the students of the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), are writing this petition to express our concerns over the current state of our institution,” the petition begins. “In an intentional and overbearing consolidation of power, President Paul Hogle and Dr. Susan Rothmann have ushered us into a troubling new direction, resulting in frustration, anxiety, and distress amongst the student body. Consequently, we believe that the well-being of our community and our reputation are at risk.

“Due to the apparent lack of concern for our current students’ future and success, it has become evident that our community is in need of a change,” it continued. “The following claims detail the grounds on which we believe President Hogle and Dr. Rothmann are unfit to govern our institution.”


This action follows occurrences at CIM from May 2023, including journalist Anne Midgette declining a CIM honorary doctorate, and the Title IX investigation of Carlos Kalmar, CIM’s principal conductor and director of orchestral studies since 2021.

Kalmar went on leave following a sit-in staged by CIM students and supporters, who circulated a petition calling for his resignation in September in protest of his Title IX case being dismissed the month prior.  

“President Hogle, Provost Harrison, and I, as well as the entire CIM administration, have always approached Title IX concerns with a high level of seriousness,” said CIM dean, vice president of academic and student affairs, and acting Title IX director Dean Southern at the time. 

“As in this case, our goal is to conduct a thorough and fact-based examination leading to a determination consistent with CIM’s Title IX policy,” he continued. “That examination is only possible because of the courage and candor of all of the members of our community who were involved in this process…CIM will make sure that our students are fully supported to continue CIM’s tradition of empowering the world’s most talented classical musicians.”

While the petition does not mention Kalmar by name, it refers to the matter as the “issues of the CIM Orchestra program.” The document claims that as student leaders reached out to their classmates about the sit-in protests, “CIM immediately disabled student and faculty communication features within Outlook.”


Students walking to rehearsal at CIM when the sit-in protest was planed

Students walking to rehearsal at CIM when the sit-in protest was planned (PC: Dmitri Ashakih/Ideastream Public Media)


Recently, CIM’s head of the trumpet department, Michael Sachs, resigned of his own accord after a 35-year tenure, following allegations from the administration over statements Sachs claims he “never made.”

“This incident was not the first baseless attack by members of CIM’s administration on my character, reputation, and integrity,” Sachs wrote on Facebook in October. Because I will not tolerate any further such attacks, I made the decision to resign…As heart-wrenchingly difficult as it was, I had to conclude that I can no longer be a party to CIM’s institutional culture. I will miss my students more than words can say.”

The petition states that due to Sachs resignation, five out of six CIM trumpet students have inquired about withdrawing from CIM. 

“Unfortunately, it has become a commonly held sentiment that students are no longer getting as high quality of an education as other high-level institutions, such as Juilliard, Curtis, and Rice,” the students wrote. 

“[Sachs’] statement demonstrates the negligent manner in which CIM regularly interacts with our faculty, even one who has served the institution so diligently for 35 years,” the petition wrote. “Ultimately, if our faculty are treated this way, it is only inevitable that students will be treated even worse.”

Sachs’ resignation came a day after Rothmann’s letter to faculty and students stating that “a public campaign designed to damage CIM is being waged by a small group of people who oppose the evolution of the institute,” and also included a link to a “CIM Fact-Check” webpage listing misconceptions about its senior leadership. 


Additionally, as a “restructuring decision,” CIM laid off 15% of its administrative staff in July 2023. The student body claims that they were not informed until the fact-check was released on October 5, 2023.

“Recently, there has been a significant amount of misleading information circulating about CIM,” the fact-check site reads. “We are disappointed by this and, as it has begun to affect our students, it is necessary for us to respond to ensure that our many supporters have an accurate representation of the claims that have been made.”

According to CIM, the layoffs were part of their “moonshot vision,” which aims to preserve CIM’s student training, “while continuing to ensure that cost is not a barrier to their education.”

CIM has not responded to The Violin Channel's request for comment.

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