What is the AOI?

The University of Oklahoma’s American Organ Institute stands to reclaim, reinvigorate and reinvent the time-honored traditions of pipe organ building and playing by preparing and equipping students for successful careers as performers, teachers, organ builders, and technicians. The AOI’s mission is to reintroduce students and audiences to an evolving instrument with ancient roots by inspiring innovative and informed approaches to the pipe organ and its music, cultivating excellence in diverse forms of performance and comprehensive scholarship.


Our Demands

1. The reinstatement of the American Organ Institute with the reduced budget presented by Dr. John Schwandt for three years so that we may have time to fill our endowment.

2. The reinstatement of the Organ Technology Program and all of its courses, faculty, and staff.

3. The retention of all graduate assistant positions associated with the AOI and the Organ Performance Program.

How did we get here?


In June of 2019, the University of Oklahoma moved forward with a plan to close the American Organ Institute at the University of Oklahoma School of Music. The official statements from administration have cited financial concerns as the primary motivator for this decision.

It is important to note the following:

  • Aside from 1.5 salaries, the AOI is self sustaining.

  • In July, Dr. John Schwandt, director of the AOI, presented a revised and reduced operating budget.

  • Since OU’s June press release, three donors have pledged $6,600,000 to our program

  • New and continuing students were informed of the program closure after arriving on campus in August.

  • The university promised in writing to “teach out” students enrolled in the program, but OU advisors wrote to students telling them that the program no longer exists and the they needed to change their degree emphasis.

  • Despite frequent requests, the director of the Institute and major donors have yet to meet with the President of the University of Oklahoma.

  • The University of Oklahoma is actively censoring our posts on social media and has deleted our official university website.

  • Advisors, the Director of the School of Music, and the Dean did not speak directly to students before this decision was made public.

  • The plan to “teach out” students has yet to be devised.

  • The masters level concentration in Organ Technology is a Level 5 program. In order for any changes to be made, a request must be sent to the Graduate College and the Academic Programs Committee. Neither of these steps were made, so the closure of the AOI is in violation of University policy.

  • Press releases from OU have failed to correctly name our program, have misrepresented the number of students in the program, and have not accurately presented our financial situation.

This is bigger than the AOI. A university is not a business.
Knowledge, experience, truth, and beauty cannot be tallied in a ledger.