Berklee Today

Roger H. Brown Named Berklee's Third President

  President Roger Brown
  Roger Brown
  Farnsworth Blalock photos

On February 6, Berklee's Board of Trustees Chair Allan T. McLean announced that Roger H. Brown had been named to succeed Lee Eliot Berk as Berklee's third president. An entrepreneur, Brown, together with his wife, Linda Mason, founded Bright Horizons Family Solutions, the world's leading provider of employee-sponsored child care and early childhood development.

Berklee's search committee, composed of members of the faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees, spent 16 months and considered candidates from academia, the music industry, and the business world before selecting Brown. "Roger was chosen from a very rich pool of applicants," said McLean. "Many highly qualified candidates were interested in continuing the tradition of vision and innovation established by Lee and Larry Berk. We chose Roger because he is a dynamic, creative, and insightful leader whose outstanding amalgam of skills will serve us well as we forge on into the 21st century."
In his remarks during the February 6 announcement to the college, Brown said, "Berklee is an unusual and exciting place with an enormous amount of potential. It became this in less than 60 years; that's the thing I find astounding. Starting something from scratch is an exhilarating and sometimes a terrifying thing. So we have Lawrence Berk and other people to thank for this vision. I'm going to do my best to fulfill the expectations you have for me."

Since establishing Bright Horizons Family Solutions in 1986, Brown and Mason have seen their company expand to include 500 child care and early-development centers serving 55,000 children in four countries. Bright Horizons provides on-site child development for IBM, UAW/Ford, Sony Pictures Entertainment, the United Nations, the European Commission, as well as MIT, Johns Hopkins and other universities, hospitals, and government agencies.

Today, Brown's company takes in more than $400 million in annual revenues and enjoys the country's best accreditation record from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and has been repeatedly selected by Fortune magazine as one of the 100 best places to work in America. Seeking a new challenge, Brown stepped aside as the CEO of Bright Horizons in 2002. He remains chairman of the company, however.
Brown has been honored numerous times for his service to young children as well as for his entrepreneurship. He holds a bachelor's degree from Davidson College and an MBA from Yale University.

Prior to founding Bright Horizons, Brown served as an executive with the Save the Children Federation, for which he created a national famine relief program in Sudan. He has also been a relief manager in Thailand for CARE and UNICEF and a math teacher in Kenya, as well as a management consultant at Bain & Company.

A musician as well, Brown has played drums with various bands, including a stint with a jazz-fusion group during the 1980s. He has produced six recordings for use within the Bright Horizons community. He coproduced Bright Spaces, a collection of music featuring Ziggy Marley, Raffi, Arlo Guthrie, and Sweet Honey in the Rock to benefit the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children. The CD won the Oppenheim Platinum Award, Early Childhood News Director's Choice Award, Parents Guide to Children's Media Award, and the NAPPA Silver Award.

Outgoing president Lee Eliot Berk, who was in Los Angeles at the time of the announcement has voiced his support for the Board of Trustees' choice of Brown. "As the namesake of the college and son of its founder, I know that serving as Berklee's president is a profoundly personal charge. Roger radiates a sense of deep commitment to the college and its mission, and I am confident that he will lead Berklee to greater heights."
In closing his address to those gathered to hear the presidential announcement on February 6, Brown quoted Bengali poet, playwright, and musician Rabindranath Tagore.

I slept and dreamed that life was joy.
I woke and realized that life was duty.
I went to work and realized duty can be joy.

"I feel that Berklee is in such a great position," said Brown. "The [third] president has every opportunity to make the coming years even more spectacular than the past 60." Brown assumed the duties of president at Berklee on June 1. An interview with Brown will appear in the Fall 2004 issue of this magazine.