Letter from the President-Elect

Published December 1, 2020

Dear Berklee community,

The Thanksgiving weekend is now coming to a close, and parts of my reflections over the long holiday have been about all of you, and how much I have appreciated getting to know many of you through the various open houses, forums, and meetings that have taken place since the announcement in October. I’m anxious to be on the ground with you, in person, and look forward to the possibility of seeing and meeting even more of you this coming spring as travel conditions allow. In the meantime, I plan to continue talking with as many of you as I can via Zoom, so that I can hear and understand the needs and desires of the many members of our diverse community, and how I can be of service to the greater institution.

In the course of conversations so far, I’ve received any number of questions about things like my musical and literary tastes, and how I spend my free time. As the time up to now has been focused on the many administrative and academic areas that make up this magical and complex institution, it hasn’t really been possible for me to answer those more personal questions, and so I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you all a few bits of information that you’ll definitely never find in my bio or CV. 

What I Listen To:

My musical tastes are very eclectic. Truly, I love all music genres and styles, as long as they’re done well. I’m a child of radio, and also love the curated “surprises” and commentary that have historically come from the best DJs. As a result, I prefer either hosted satellite or live radio to albums or creating my own playlists. My car presets currently include classical, opera, country, classic rock, classic jazz, Motown, bluegrass, Latin pop, and hip-hop/R&B. In a departure from my usual listening, I also always add holiday albums around this time of year, with personal favorites being the Vince Guaraldi Trio, Emmylou Harris, Ella Fitzgerald, and King’s College, Cambridge.

I grew up with a ton of big band, jazz standards, and traditional classical music, which was the preferred listening of my parents. My schooling had me consuming huge amounts of Western and global traditional and contemporary concert music as well, and I have an enormous traditional/contemporary collection. My tastes also drew me to the great singer-songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s (Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Stevie Nicks), the great vocal stylists of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s (Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Wonder), and anybody that could really play or whose music was timeless (Hendrix, the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Santana, Rush, Van Halen). All of this remains part of my regular listening.

In addition to all of the above, right now I’m also really enjoying catching up in deeper dives with the latest work of artists like Billie Eilish, Summer Walker, Cardi B, and Pat Metheny.

What’s on My Nightstand:

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein. It’s the quintessential study of dual-hemisphere (right and left brain) thinkers, and how broadening our exposure to many ideas and ways of thinking makes us better strategists, and more adaptable to change.

Favorite Quote:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
—Maya Angelou

What I Do with My Spare Time:

Sorry, what’s that?

What I Would Do with My Spare Time if I Had It:

Ride horses. In my former life, I was a competitive amateur equestrian.

What I Truly Love:

My family, my students, and building things that make a difference for other people.


Well, that’s it for now. We’re scheduling more meetings online soon, and will be looking at the possibility of in-person conversations for the spring.

Warmest wishes to all,