Berklee Receives Largest Gift in Its History

Allen Bush
March 21, 2013
Press release

Oliver Dyer Colvin Jr. loved the music made by the students at Berklee College of Music. Throughout the years, he spent many evenings at the Berklee Performance Center and recital halls, listening to students from all over the world perform jazz, his preference, and many other styles.

The Cambridge resident’s affinity for the students and their music was acknowledged in his will. Colvin’s bequest of an estimated $8.1 million is the largest gift ever made to Berklee in its 67-year history. It’s also the largest gift made to any institution for arts education in the United States last year, and the second largest to an arts institution in the last 10 years, according to the Council for Aid to Education, a national source of information on private giving to higher education. 

In recognition of Colvin’s gift, the college will name one of its recital halls for him. A busy, 100-seat performance hall on the first floor of Berklee’s 1140 Boylston Street building will be named the Oliver Colvin Room. His name will appear on the exterior wall of the space that is host to vibrant student performances, clinics from renowned visiting artists, and classes taught by Berklee’s world-class faculty.
“Mr. Colvin loved to come hear Berklee students perform and, with this gift, he has helped us guarantee that the next generation of talented musicians will continue to advance the jazz tradition he enjoyed so much,” said Berklee College of Music president Roger H. Brown. “We are deeply grateful for his generosity.”
Colvin died in the summer of 2011 at age 84. He was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and served with distinction as a naval officer during the Korean War, in the capacity of a boat wave commander of landing craft that brought soldiers and marines ashore at Inchon on the Korean coast.
After leaving the Navy, he worked at Sylvania Electric Products Inc., and later at International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. Colvin worked on defense contracts involving weapons systems and achieved Top Secret Security Clearance. He went on to serve as chairman of Cargocaire Engineering Corporation, a family-owned business based in Amesbury, Massachusetts that designs and builds dehumidification units that protect ships and cargo from moisture damage.