State of the College
|President Roger H. Brown|
"There is a new social class, the creative class that generates new ideas, new technology, and creative content that profoundly influences work and lifestyle issues." Originally written by sociologist Richard Florida in The Rise of the Creative Class, these words launched President Roger H. Brown's 2011 State of the College presentation.
"We want our students to enter that creative class," Brown said. "To promote creativity among our students, we as an institution have to be creative. If you have a bright idea for something that the world hasn't had before, the rewards are enormous. This is relevant to Berklee as an institution and also for our alumni as they try to make their way in the world. It challenges us to be innovative and better equipped to provide students with the tools they need to be innovators. If our ideas work together the way we've imagined, we will take our place in this new, creative economy."
Berklee's Solar System
Brown analogized Berklee's Boston campus as "the educational hub of our educational solar system. We also have other planets in our orbit that are important for Berklee's future in the creative economy," Brown said. Those planets include online extension school Berkleemusic.com, the Berklee City Music Program (BCMP), and the Berklee in Valencia campus.
Discussing the Boston campus, Brown mentioned the increase in financial aid and scholarships from $13 million in in 2006 to $28 million in 2011. The increase has enabled the college to help 70 percent of its students with some tuition assistance.
"Tuition is now $33,500 per year," Brown said. "It's expensive, but relative to other music institutions, we're still one of the least expensive. But all of these schools are unaffordable to many people. I'm optimistic that out of the almost 7 billion people on the earth, there will be for the foreseeable future 4,000 fantastic talents who can afford to come here with the scholarship support we offer. Our highest priority needs to continue to be raising scholarship and financial-aid support for our students."
He also spoke about the new 16-story building now under construction at 160 Massachusetts Avenue, and the myth that Berklee is planning to increase enrollment. "The Boston campus is not growing," Brown emphasized. "We set a limit of 4,000 students shortly after I arrived. Once we open the 160 building, we will expand enrollment by only 1 percent, that's about 50 additional students. We aren't growing; we want to become better, deeper, and more effective, not add students."
Berkleemusic.com, the college's online extension school, is a key component of the college's overall mission. "It has the potential to become a great source for music education for people around the world," Brown said. "If we want to make higher education accessible to more people, we have to make it less expensive. Online education is the simplest, fastest, and most efficacious way to do that." The Berkleemusic website has an open admissions policy, costs less to deliver than traditional classroom education, and has received best online course awards for six consecutive years. The lower costs are due to the absence of facility costs-class size averages 12 students per class. In 2011, 10,074 students were enrolled in Berkleemusic.com and more than 100 Berklee faculty members taught in the online school.
Plans are in the works to offer an online professional studies bachelor's degree. This may also be a powerful tool in helping alumni complete their Berklee degrees.
President Brown characterized the Berklee City Music Program as a means to "bring about social change using contemporary music as the medium. Its secondary goal is to produce great musicians," the president noted. BCMP currently offers some 10,000 middle- and high-school students music lessons, ensembles, and music theory instruction at 32 locations across America. BCMP can "dramatically expand the horizons of the young people it serves," Brown said. This successful program has helped orient many urban teens toward college, with many participants later attending Berklee while others have enrolled at Harvard, Brown, Wesleyan, the University of Massachusetts, and other schools.
Berklee in Valencia
Referring to the new campus in Valencia, Spain, Brown discussed plans for master's degree offerings in three areas of study in 2012. The Valencia admissions policy will be highly selective and the facility will ultimately serve about 200 students. "We intentionally chose not to create a program that was a replication of what we do in Boston," he said. "We will do things there that we have not done in Boston."
One of those undertakings is the new Mediterranean Music Institute that will explore musical styles of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, North Africa, the Middle East and Israel. It will equip students to understand the history of the music and to create new music built on those influences. "I'm really excited about this," Brown noted enthusiastically. "You can't typically study Mediterranean music styles such as flamenco at most European conservatories. They're treating these incredibly rich folkloric music styles the same way American conservatories treated jazz, rock, and blues before Berklee was an innovator and showed the worth of those styles." For more information on the new institute, visit http://berkleevalencia.org.
Berklee Music Network
Brown spoke about the Berklee Music Network, which is getting up and running. It's designed to bring alumni from the Boston campus together with alumni of BCMP, the online school, and the Five-Week Summer Performance Program to create a "food court of musical services that all can access." Brown described some features of the site, including the network's gig board that provides employment opportunities to members and that currently lists more than 3,000 gigs. "It's still in the early phases," Brown said, "but it will be a very powerful tool for connecting us all." He encouraged all Berklee community members to create a profile and connect. (Visit http://berkleemusicnetwork.com.)
Brown concluded with a quote from author and educator Margaret J. Wheatley: "The things we fear most in organizations-fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances-are the primary sources of creativity. I'm cognizant of the fact that we have some perturbations and disturbances now," Brown acknowledged. "Between building the largest facility in our history, launching a new campus, Berklee in Valencia, Spain, and the many other plans we have, we are in the midst of some very ambitious programs. But I think this is exactly what we need to be doing. The universe is not static, like a complex gyroscope, it is expanding, rotating, and revolving. Its very motion keeps it stable. Similarly, if we are not moving forward, we are not going to fulfill our aspiration of being the world's leading institute of contemporary music."