No More Cutting Class

UT's informal classes program finds two new homes

Last week saw the final performances at the Cactus Cafe before KUT takes over its management (see "You Coulda Walked Around the World.") Now, just as the iconic venue enters a new era, the University of Texas at Austin informal classes program finds a new lease on life as the Butler School of Music announces its first round of music classes open to all Austinites.

Both the classes and the cafe were originally scheduled to face the axe this fall as part of budget cuts within the Texas Union (see "'A' Is for Axed: UT Chops Cactus, Cuts Classes," Feb. 5). The last classes under the old system were held July 31, but the UT administration had already confirmed that two academic departments would be expanding educational opportunities for the wider community. Continuing & Innovative Education will be taking over a limited version of the informal classes program, starting with the Go Native U horticulture classes provided by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. To complement that programming, starting in September, the Butler School will offer beginners' classes and private instruction in piano, guitar, and voice, as well as a course in learning to read music. Both departments require the courses to be self-financing, but the school is already discussing adding more classes in future semesters. Butler School Director Glenn Chandler described the new endeavor as a natural fit for his department. "We've had noncredit instruction for 30 years or more in some form or another," he said. "Most of that has been geared toward children, and we had talked for some time about doing some informal adult-level things."

Starting at $200 for a semester's worth of classes, the courses will be taught by graduate students under faculty supervision. Those fees could provide a vital economic lifeline to those grads; the department already had to hand back $100,000, or roughly 10% of its research and teaching assistant budget, and with the university's budget likely to be cut further in the next legislative session, the opportunities for graduate employment may shrink even more. "We're hoping that the opportunity to earn some money on the part of some graduate students will help some find funds that we wouldn't have had available otherwise," said Chandler.

For more information about and to register for the Butler classes, visit; for news on the Continuing Education courses, visit

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UT Informal Classes, Butler School of Music, Texas Union, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, University of Texas

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