Berklee Today

Lead Sheet

The State of the College


"Berklee will be the world's leading institute of contemporary music. Attracting diverse and talented students passionate about careers in music, we will offer a comprehensive and relevant curriculum in music and liberal arts. We will engage an unparalleled faculty of inspiring educators and cutting-edge industry professionals, provide state-of-the-art facilities for learning and living, and produce tomorrow's leaders of the global music community."
This is the opening paragraph of "A Vision for Berklee College of Music in 2015" that was approved by the Board of Trustees. At the heart of our strategy is the student experience. We need to ensure that students come first. There are five key, interactive elements in our strategy: enrollment, faculty and curriculum, facilities, resources, and community. Each element of the strategy supports the others. If we promote a strong sense of community, we'll be better able to raise money to buy new facilities. With better facilities, faculty members can do their jobs better, which will attract talented students to enroll at the college. Achieving all these objectives will ultimately improve the student experience.
Three guiding principles should influence our thinking on the five elements: diversity, technology, and innovation. Let me illustrate what I mean. When we build a new facility, we should consider diversity so that the building is handicap accessible. We need to factor in diversity issues when we develop new curriculum or conduct fundraising efforts or hire new staff. A new building must be state of the art to support what we do with technology at the college. Finally, a new building needs to be innovative both aesthetically and functionally, because Berklee has the reputation for being an innovative place. Everything we do needs to reflect that ideal.

Our fast-track enrollment strategy includes clarifying the profile of students we want to attract by phasing in a program to audition and interview all viable applicants for admission. For the present, we want to cap enrollment at 4,000 students. For the past six years, Berklee has admitted about 80 percent of those who applied. This year, 57 percent of those who applied were admitted. We expect that the percentage of those admitted will continue to decrease as we implement the audition and interview processes (see acceptance rate graph). We also plan to offer more scholarship opportunities for students in all majors, develop an after-school music curriculum, expand Berklee City Music partnerships and scholarships, and implement a new registration policy. As a long-range objective, we are working to develop a comprehensive enrollment and scholarship strategy.
Regarding the diversity of the 2005 entering class, we enrolled the largest percentage of women (29 percent) in the history of the college. The domestic Latin population was 6 percent of the entering class. The number of African-American students in the entering class was 12 percent, double last year's number. We will continue to make strides with domestic diversity.

Faculty and Curriculum
We are working on three fast-track initiatives in our faculty and curriculum strategy. We have launched a new study-abroad program, and 12 students will go in January to spend a semester in Athens, Greece. We are working to expand internship opportunities for all students and will launch our Los Angeles residential internship program this summer. This for-credit program will give participants a chance to apprentice in the music industry. The last component of the strategy involves creating a more comprehensive advisory program for all students that will be in place for the spring semester of 2007.
Over the long term, we will conduct a comprehensive academic program and curriculum review. We will consider what we teach, how we teach it, what's included in the core curriculum, and how it all works together.
Notable accomplishments in the area of faculty and curriculum include successfully renegotiating a new, four-year faculty contract before the fall 2005 semester began. In addition, we launched a New Orleans visiting artist program after Hurricane Katrina. We brought musicians who were displaced and unemployed to Berklee to present clinics and concerts to benefit the students and earn some income in the process. We changed the name of our General Education Department to the Liberal Arts Department. More than a change in nomenclature, this new name reflects our commitment to make the department the best it can be in teaching nonmusic subjects of importance to our students.
We have recently made marimba, mandolin, and banjo principal instruments at Berklee. Last summer we invited Terri Lyne Carrington to host Berklee's first Summer Jazz Workshop program, which drew many talented high-school students. Finally, Dr. Lawrence J. Simpson was hired as senior vice president for academic affairs.


Our fast-track facilities strategy involves aggressively seeking to lease or purchase more space to meet our immediate needs for classrooms and offices. We are also upgrading classrooms and office spaces and making improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Other areas of emphasis include stabilizing the campus technology network, optimizing the use of space in all facilities, and increasing after-hours availability for practice rooms, communal space, and performance and rehearsal space.
Currently, we are working to get the Percussion Department facilities in the 1140 Boylston Street building back in shape after a basement flood last fall. We hope that they will be functional by fall 2006. We have recently spent $500,000 on new pianos and more than $1 million to build four new music synthesis studios.

On the fast track for our resources strategy, we are expanding board-of-trustee and friend-of-the-college involvement in fundraising efforts, and we are aiming to increase alumni giving. Our long-range resource strategy is to conduct a capital campaign to support the college vision. This will be the first such campaign in the history of the college.
We are gaining momentum in the area of fundraising. Last year, we raised more than $3 million and received the largest gift in Berklee history: a $2.25-million, multi-year, matching grant from the Johnson Foundation. Our Encore Gala raised $787,000; that's up 40 percent from last year. We have exceeded our fundraising goal by surpassing the $5 million mark, and there are a few months left in our fiscal year. Additionally, we appointed Deborah G. Bieri as our new senior vice president for institutional advancement.

Our community strategy involves fast-track plans to improve internal communication and establish a definitive source for college information. We will introduce fitness programs and arrange for Berklee community access to area fitness facilities. We are conducting compensation studies in order to set fair and equitable pay for Berklee employees. For the long range, we will develop a comprehensive plan for making Berklee a great place to learn, teach, and work.

Guiding Principles
As mentioned above, the guiding principles of our strategy are diversity, technology, and innovation. We are implementing our diversity initiative recommendations and are in the final stages of our search for a vice president for cultural diversity. Regarding technology and innovation, we are striving to make the premier online school for music. We have 1,400 students taking online courses this winter.
Finally, Berklee's Internet radio station ( is broadcasting 24 hours a day from a small studio at 270 Commonwealth Avenue. Now anyone in the world with an Internet connection can hear the BIRN's four different channels of music.
I want to thank you for helping us formulate this clear and focused strategy. Now let's go and get it done!