Roger H. Brown Honored by Williams College, Boston Arts Academy

By 
Tori Donahue
June 10, 2019

Berklee’s president was recognized for his contributions to education and the arts. 

Williams College President Maud S. Mandel and Berklee President Roger H. Brown at the Williams commencement ceremony
Image courtesy of Williams College

Berklee President Roger H. Brown was recently honored by Williams College and the Boston Arts Academy (BAA) for his contributions to education and the arts.

On Saturday, May 4, Boston Arts Academy Foundation hosted its annual celebration to support BAA, Boston’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts, and specifically the school’s STEAM program, which infuses arts across subjects. The event, which honored artists, arts enthusiasts, and advocates, raised $1.35 million. BAA was founded in 1998 by Boston Public Schools and the Professional Arts Consortium (ProArts), an association of six higher education institutions, which includes Berklee. During Brown’s tenure as president, Berklee has played an important part in the evolution of the BAA.

Brown was the event’s music honoree, joining local leaders representing dance, fashion, civic engagement, theater, and visual arts in receiving accolades. In his acceptance remarks, Brown said, “The reason we work so hard supporting the Boston Arts Academy is because we need kids from the city of Boston to be well prepared to come and succeed at Berklee, or wherever they go.” He then listed several prominent Boston Arts Academy graduates who went on to attend Berklee, before joining the BAA student band on drums for “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Joe Zawinul ‘59.

On Sunday, June 2, Brown received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Williams College at its commencement ceremony in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Other honorees at the event included geneticist Mary-Claire King; social justice and healthcare advocate Ophelia Dahl; founder and cochairman of Charlesbank Capital Partners and chair of the Williams Board of Trustees Michael Eisenson; and Grammy Award–winning musician Kevin Roosevelt Moore (Keb’Mo’).

Presenting the honorary doctorate, Maud S. Mandel, president of Williams College, said, “Yikes! Could this be the résumé of one person?” while recounting Brown’s experiences teaching in Kenya, responding to humanitarian crises, and establishing Bright Horizons, all while keeping music as an important part of his life.

“It was an honor to be recognized by one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the country at their graduation ceremony,” said Brown. “Williams and Berklee both encourage our students to be creative thinkers and engage with the world around us. Receiving an honorary doctorate alongside these exceptional students who will go out and shape our world was a highlight of my professional career. Williams College has educated a number of wonderful musicians—Stephen Sondheim, songwriter Marcus Hummon (Dixie Chicks, Rascal Flatts), and our shared alumnus, Chinese superstar Wang Leehom ['99]—so that made the honor even more special.”