Diversity and Inclusion Framework


Berklee at its best has stood for creativity regardless of race, gender, religion, or nationality. If we examine our past, we see that in some ways we have a progressive history. Berklee College of Music was founded on jazz and music of the African cultural diaspora, and Boston Conservatory at Berklee was a pioneer in admitting African Americans and women in the mid-19th century. Many seminal African American, Latino, Asian, women, and other artists have studied at Berklee; however, many alumni have criticisms of the campus climate as it pertained to race and gender at the time that they attended.

Currently, the combined student body of the College, Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music’s campus in Valencia, Spain, is 30 percent international, with our students hailing from more than 100 countries. In nearly every country, our alumni are represented by top performers, educators, sound engineers, music business leaders, choreographers, and Broadway actors. Our students practice virtually every major religion and some minor ones, they speak multiple languages, their political views span the ideological spectrum, and yet they find a common purpose at Berklee. Although we have made progress in diversifying the makeup of our students, faculty, and staff, we recognize that more needs to be done to improve the campus climate and the experience for our diverse students, faculty, and staff.

Diversity and Inclusion Efforts Over the Past Decade

As we present this framework for progress, we also acknowledge that we have made a number of investments to support diversity and inclusion over the past decade, starting in 2006 when we updated our mission statement to reflect the role of jazz and popular music rooted in the African cultural diaspora in the musical curriculum and history of the college. Curricular changes have been made that reinforce our efforts, such as the launching of the Africana Studies Program, Planet MicroJam Institute, American Roots Music Program, Mediterranean Music Institute, and other focused areas of study that allow a deeper look at a broader range of musical styles and provide support and leadership opportunities for all. We have also established a truly innovative Assistive Music Technology Lab for blind and visually impaired musicians, and the Conservatory launched a graduate program focused specifically on music education and autism.

Our diversity and inclusion efforts have been supported by cocurricular innovations like launching the Africa Scholars program. We have established clinics in the Republic of Cape Verde and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and most recently we began planning for a new Berklee International Network partner institution in Gabon.

This support extends to our student recruitment and retention efforts, where we have dramatically increased scholarship and financial aid with a focus on achieving more student diversity—including expanding scholarship support and recruitment of domestic African American and Hispanic students to match expected increases in these demographics. We have also increased the population of female students at Berklee with a focus on female instrumentalists, and we’ve increased the population of international students. In addition the college has launched a preorientation tailored for international students, established an LGBTQIA mentoring program, and created grants for upper-semester students who are close to finishing their degree but require financial assistance.

Berklee created the Office for Diversity and Inclusion as well as the position of chief equity officer and Title IX coordinator to oversee our equity leadership team and better implement equity policy. This leadership team has invested in training and discussion efforts surrounding diversity and inclusion, having implemented a mandatory College-wide equity training program and a Conservatory-wide Title IX training program. In addition, we have improved universal access to facilities, technology, programs, services, events, and activities.

Despite the progress we have made, we believe that we can and must do better. We have a moral obligation to become the best institution in the world for the full spectrum of musicians, dancers, and actors who want to make their mark on their art form.

Framework for Progress

  1. Student Success, Access, and Campus Culture
    Diversity and inclusion are central to our mission and to the quality and excellence of the services we provide at Berklee. Student success, improved retention and graduation rates, and improvement of the student experience will be our top priorities. See pages 9–11 of our Diversity and Inclusion Framework for supporting data.
  2. Recruiting and Hiring
    We have historically had a relatively low turnover of faculty and staff at Berklee, which means that increasing the diversity of the institution requires us to treat every new job opening as a vital opportunity to seek top candidates who better reflect the makeup of the student body. It is our responsibility to ensure our diversity and inclusion principles are infused throughout the hiring process for all faculty, staff, and students.
  3. Training, Dialogue, and Practice
    The institution will strive to create a safe and inclusive campus community by deepening and enhancing the level of discussion and training around diversity and inclusion issues on campus.
  4. Action Items Tailored for the Conservatory’s Unique Needs
    The institution will further evaluate and develop a tailored approach to addressing the unique needs of the Conservatory in relation to those of the College to create a comprehensive plan that addresses equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  5. Action Items Tailored for Berklee Valencia’s Unique Needs
    The institution will further evaluate and develop a tailored approach to addressing the unique needs of the Valencia campus in relation to those of the institution to create a comprehensive plan that addresses equity, diversity, and inclusion while paying specific attention to the cultural and regional understanding surrounding these topics.
  6. Additional Initiatives
    There are several initiatives that will be examined through this framework that did not fit into the categories above. These range from a thorough examination of the honorary degree recipient selection process and the cultivation of a more diverse Board of Trustees to identifying a diverse pool of vendors, expanding cultural program offerings that reflect our values, and creating space for differing viewpoints regarding political ideology.
  7. Evaluate Resources
    Berklee is committed to supporting these initiatives and will evaluate and provide the appropriate resources to fully implement the six initiatives listed above.


A committee structure has been created that will be charged with addressing the key framework areas outlined in this document. Each committee will be led by cochairs, and the work in its entirety will be overseen by executive sponsors. These individuals will be appointed by the president and provost. Full committee membership will then be recommended by the cochairs and will be approved by the senior vice presidents' group. All cochairs and committee members will be tasked with reviewing the community feedback we collected and evaluating current data and institutional information to set a strategy and a system for accountability for their framework areas. They will receive training from outside consultants to guide them in this important work, which will begin in September 2017. The executive sponsors, meanwhile, will be charged with designing the training module for and providing oversight to all cochairs, aiding in developing progress on each initiative, and bringing recommendations to the president’s cabinet. A follow-up communication will be available in the coming weeks about the team that will lead us in this work.


Given the importance of this plan in fulfilling our mission statement and our values, we will create a working and learning environment in which successful performance is predicated on effectiveness as a leader or educator with respect to cultural competency. While the discussion and training along with developing our empathy and compassion will certainly help us all grow as individuals, our goal will be to create a culture that does not require us all to be authorities on intercultural sophistication. Rather, our culture will be one that observes, measures, and rewards success so that we can create an extraordinary educational institution.