Paul Simon, Christopher Guest, and Marc Willis Join Berklee's Board of Trustees

By 
Nick Balkin
December 17, 2008

Berklee College of Music Board of Trustees chair Jeff Shames has announced the appointment of singer/songwriter Paul Simon, director/actor/musician Christopher Guest, and Marc Willis, president and CEO of the Soulsville Foundation, to the Berklee College of Music Board of Trustees. 

Says Berklee President Roger H. Brown, "The additions of Paul, Chris, and Marc augment our board's capacity across the spectrum of education, songwriting, performance, and film. We believe we have a board of trustees poised to help Berklee be a nexus of musical creativity in the 21st century." 

Through their participation as board members, Simon and Guest look forward to more interactions with students and faculty. Simon has a full-ride Berklee Presidential Scholarship as well as a Berkleemusic.com Celebrity Online Scholarship in his name. At its 1986 commencement, Berklee presented Simon with an honorary doctor of music degree. Guest, who performed a concert at Berklee with students and faculty in 2007, also has an honorary doctorate from the college. A Berklee alumnus, Willis runs the nonprofit parent company that operates the Stax Music Academy. In the last year, the academy became a network site for Berklee City Music. 

Paul Simon has been the recipient of many honors, including 12 Grammy Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2007, he was the recipient of the first-annual Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He is an inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and is in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame both as a member of Simon & Garfunkel and as a solo artist. Simon's philanthropic work includes the cofounding of the Children's Health Fund, which donates and staffs mobile medical vans that bring health care to poor and indigent children in urban and rural locations around the U.S. In the 20 years since its inception it has provided more than 1.2 million doctor/patient visits, and in the wake of hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, it was the primary health care source for those communities decimated by the storms. Simon has also raised millions of dollars for worthy causes as varied as AMFAR, the Nature Conservancy, the Fund for Imprisoned Children in South Africa, and Autism Speaks. In 1989, the United Negro College Fund honored him with its Frederick D. Patterson Award. 

Christopher Guest is a writer, director, actor, musician, and composer. His career began writing for National Lampoon magazine and contributing to the National Lampoon Radio Hour, making five albums, three of which were nominated for Grammys. His television credits include The TV ShowThe Chevy Chase SpecialThe Lily Tomlin Show (for which he received an Emmy Award), and Saturday Night Live as a writer, director, and cast member. Guest's directing credits include Waiting for GuffmanAlmost HeroesBest in ShowA Mighty Wind—for which he, Eugene Levy, and Michael McKean won Grammy Awards—and For Your Consideration, to name a few. Guest has toured the world with the band Spinal Tap as well as the Folksmen. He has also acted in more than a dozen films including A Few Good MenThe Long RidersThe Princess BrideLittle Shop of Horrors, and This Is Spinal Tap. He was most recently seen in Stephen Frears's Mrs. Henderson Presents with Judi Dench. 

Marc Willis '84 is the president and CEO of the Soulsville Foundation, the nonprofit parent company that operates the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy, and the Soulsville Charter School. Previous to serving in his current position, Willis was the first director of the Stax Music Academy, overseeing operations for the learning center that provides music education and unique performance opportunities for potentially at-risk children. Earlier in his career, Willis taught at Indiana University-Purdue University, and LeMoyne-Owen College. He was also a technical advisor developer at computer music-based software company Cakewalk. Willis is a freelance composer, songwriter, media producer, and designer. He received his bachelor's degree in film scoring and music composition from Berklee, and has two master's degrees from Indiana University-Purdue University. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Memphis Music Commission, and the board of trustees of Memphis College of Art.