The State of the College

The following is summarized from President Roger H. Brown's December 18, 2012 address to the college.

“It all starts with attracting the best students in the world—motivated, creative, and talented,” President Roger H. Brown said in opening his December 2012 State of the College address. “Then add great faculty delivering a state-of-the-art curriculum in facilities worthy of the talent of the students. Support these students in securing gigs and careers after Berklee, and a virtuous cycle is created. The reputation of the alumni and the school grows, strong new students want to attend, faculty are more inspired, and we continue to raise the bar for what the world’s best institute of contemporary music looks and sounds like.”

Brown went on to highlight four multifaceted areas of Berklee’s strategic plan that are detailed in the booklet “The Crossroads of Music” (see The booklet’s four sections are titled “Complete Major Initiatives,” “Integrate Resources Across Programs,” “Assess for Relevance to Vision,” and “Planning Ahead.”

Discussing completion of major initiatives, Brown highlighted the construction of the 160 Massachusetts Avenue building. Of the 16-story structure scheduled for completion in September, Brown said, “It will enable us to house every entering student and will feature a 400-seat dining hall that doubles as a concert venue. It will also house two floors of music production and recording facilities, ensemble rooms, and a small gymnasium.”

Brown also spoke about the new campus in Valencia, Spain, now accredited and offering graduate degrees and study-abroad opportunities for Berklee undergraduates. “For the spring 2013 semester we will have 120 students,” Brown said. “Our enrollment goal for that campus is 200.”

Brown also mentioned the growth of BerkleeMusic, the college’s site for continuing education. “Our plan is to offer online degrees in music production and in music business by 2014,” he said. “These will be extension-school degrees that are different from on-campus degrees. We also recently joined Coursera, a provider of free open, online courses. We are offering four, six-week, introductory courses in guitar, improvisation, music production, and songwriting. So far 85,000 people have signed up.”

Regarding Berklee’s comprehensive enrollment strategy, Brown concentrated on the auditioning efforts in China, India, Brazil, and Colombia. He also spoke of the focus on student retention and graduation. “Last year we had a 56 percent graduation rate. That’s above the national average of 54 percent.” Brown also mentioned the plan to add $1 million in scholarship support for upper-semester students who are in good standing to help them complete their degrees.

Brown referenced the success of Giant Steps, Berklee’s first capital campaign—launched in 2006 and concluded in 2011. The effort raised $54.5 million notwithstanding the 2008 global financial collapse. Over the next three-year period, a new capital campaign will launch.

In assessing specific initiatives that began between 2005 and 2012, Brown spoke of the effort to audition and interview every Berklee applicant. “I believe that setting a higher standard for who gets in to Berklee and offering them more scholarship and financial support has transformed the institution. Most faculty members feel the students are now better prepared to do the work.”

Brown mentioned some of the results of the curriculum review. “It led to changes like the 50-minute private lesson, the artistry seminar, and the introduction of minor courses of study,” said Brown. He also announced that the accreditation process for master’s degree programs for Berklee’s Boston campus is currently under way.

Regarding future plans, Brown spoke about making a Berklee education more affordable. “The number-one goal of the next capital campaign will be raising more money for scholarships.” Brown also spoke of ideas for reducing the cost of a Berklee education including off-campus degree completion, academic credit for advanced-placement exams, and more.

In closing, Brown said, “I think we have the wind in our sails. Some of the most important projects in our history are on the verge of completion. But we can’t stop thinking about the future. If we stay strong and committed and execute this plan, Berklee will become an even more amazing institution than it is today.”