Reaching for New Stars

By 
Jim Ricciuti

Thank you to all who gave to Berklee last fiscal year and whose names are listed on the following pages. With gifts that range from $1 to $1 million, you help Berklee provide a more affordable and life-changing experience for students. Thanks to you, tuition this year increased at a rate below inflation, and we awarded the greatest dollar amount in scholarships and financial aid in our history.

We’re on a path that leads to great things. Consider Berklee as a spaceship hurtling through the galaxy, launching from one humble star in 1945, zipping by the next with each new milestone. Berklee awarded its first bachelor’s degrees in 1966, opened the Berklee Performance Center in 1976, and since 1980, has added several new majors. Fast-forward to today: Berklee is auditioning and interviewing every one of the more than 8,000 hopefuls who apply to the college. As well, the landmark new facility at 160 Massachusetts Avenue—set to open in January 2014—will transform Berklee’s social fabric by providing dorm rooms to 370 students. It will also enhance our teaching capabilities by housing 10 new recording studios and production labs. The campus in Valencia, Spain, recently graduated 74 students in its first class of master’s degree recipients. Additionally, Berklee’s award-winning online offerings will soon help alumni who did not graduate to complete their degrees.

“Over the past 10 years, we have significantly invested in students, faculty, facilities, and academic programs,” says Berklee President Roger Brown. “This is all to ensure that we are the leading institute for contemporary music. The generosity of our donors, combined with hard work, is bearing fruit.

“But it is not enough to create a world-class experience for students: We must make it more affordable. Imagine if more gifted students could attend Berklee, excel, and complete their education on their own terms. Imagine our students entering the world limited not by debt, but only by their aspirations and imaginations. This is our dream. And everyone who makes a gift to the college—alumni, parents, faculty, staff, friends—brings that day closer.”

Making Berklee more affordable also requires smart decisions to run the college efficiently. Mac Hisey, Berklee’s senior vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer, says, “We are investing significantly, but at the same time we are looking hard at managing costs so we can be a good steward of our donors’ generosity. Over the past two years, we have successfully streamlined administrative costs.”

But streamlining goes only so far. The charts on the right indicate that we spend the majority of funds directly on teaching, housing, supporting, and providing financial assistance to students. That doesn’t leave much to cut without harming the student experience.

So what is the secret to providing a more affordable experience for students without sacrificing what makes Berklee great? You.

Hidden in these charts are the stories of our students. We are still primarily a tuition-based college with students and families providing 81 percent of funds. Imagine if more alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends made gifts that doubled or tripled the “gifts” slice. We could award more scholarships and financial aid to students and slow tuition increases, shrinking the tuition slice. Think of the students whose music could be heard because their talent and dedication, not financial means, determined their career at Berklee. When you give, we can rely less on tuition, easing the burden on students and families while still providing an experience unmatched anywhere in the world.

Participation is what matters most. It’s not how much you give, but your gift inspires others to give too. You bring us closer to that day when all talented students can attend, excel, and complete their Berklee education. You provide the rocket fuel to reach this new star.