Berklee Starts First Capital Campaign

Allen Bush
May 12, 2008

Berklee College of Music kicked off the public phase of the first capital campaign in its 63-year history on April 26 at the InterContinental Boston Hotel. Berklee president Roger Brown and his wife, Linda Mason, along with campaign cochairs John Connaughton and Mike Dreese, hosted more than 150 guests, including many who have made the yearlong quiet phase of the campaign a financial success, exceeding expectations and increasing the initial goal by $10 million. The college is aiming to raise $50 million by 2011.

At the event, a string ensemble including students from Russia and Bahrain performed, as did alt-country student band Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers. Berklee alumna, faculty member, and renowned jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington directed her student group, while Berklee honorary doctorate recipient and Latin Grammy winner Michel Camilo left the crowd breathless with his piano playing. Brown debuted a video featuring alumni Quincy Jones, Paula Cole, Alan Silvestri, Lalah Hathaway, Juan Luis Guerra, and Kevin Eubanks, among others, talking about the power of a Berklee education and the ways that it transformed their lives and catapulted their music.

The quiet phase of Berklee's capital campaign began in 2006 when more than $27 million of the campaign's initial $40 million goal was collected. Records were set in the college's fund-raising history with nine individual million-dollar donors and one who gave two million. The capital campaign, titled Giant Steps after the John Coltrane classic that is both a part of the Berklee curriculum and a musical challenge, will enrich three main areas: scholarships, campus expansion, and innovation.

Berklee historically has received fewer financial gifts than similar colleges, resulting in an endowment of just over $200 million, which averages $46,000 per student, 10 times less than the per student rate at peer colleges. Still, by the talent of its faculty and the innovation of its leaders, it has become the world's largest college of contemporary music. With capacity enrollment, an overwhelming need for student financial assistance, and fixed opportunities for faculty and curriculum development, Berklee's financial goal will move it into a new era.

"We are facing our future from a position of strength, but with real challenges in terms of resources," said President Brown. "Now is the time to construct the next Berklee, one that will meet new educational, social, and cultural challenges to produce tomorrow's leaders of the global music community."

Of the target fund-raising goal, $15 million has been earmarked for scholarships. Berklee is endeavoring to make available its unique educational experience to more deserving, talented, and financially challenged students than ever before, through options like the full-ride Presidential Scholarships, the first program of its kind at a music college.

Twenty million dollars will go to campus expansion. Currently, Berklee is only able to accept 30 percent of all applicants, and provide about 150 square feet per student, compared to 350 to 450 square feet at other Boston colleges. A master plan prioritizes more housing and increased space for liberal arts, music business, and music technology, and plans for a contemporary music archive.

Innovation drives the success of Berklee's unique, international community, and $15 million will support faculty learning; national educational outreach programs for underserved students; curricular enhancements in music therapy, music technology, and music business; and new learning opportunities all over the world.