New England Conservatory Names First Woman President

Andrea Kalyn will be the first woman president of New England Conservatory of Music. (Courtesy Tanya Rosen-Jones)
Andrea Kalyn will be the first woman president of New England Conservatory of Music. (Courtesy Tanya Rosen-Jones)

The New England Conservatory of Music has appointed Andrea Kalyn as its new president, making her the first woman to lead the 150-year old storied institution.

Kalyn was chosen after what NEC called in a statement an "intensive" three-year search. She spent the last 14 years at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio.

She said that she's excited to be joining NEC as president to pull together the strengths of NEC and prepare students "to have really significant professional lives of great impact."

"Our mandate is really to prepare students to shape and in fact create the very future of music, right? That's a heady charge, but a really exciting one and I think it's one that NEC is poised to do singularly well," she said in a phone interview.

Kalyn said NEC wasn't looking for a woman — just the right person for the job. "I think really it's more about advancing music and I'll bring my own particular perspective — and being a woman will be a big part of that," she said.

Cambridge's Longy School of Music is also led by a woman, Karen Zorn.

Kennett Burnes, chair of the conservatory's Board of Trustees, said that Kalyn is the right person to lead NEC into the future.

"Andrea emerged as the resounding choice because of her qualifications: her deep commitment to music excellence, her relationship with faculty, and her sense of responsibility to music education and the world at large," he said in a statement.

Kalyn is coming to Boston after spending the past four years as the dean of Oberlin Conservatory, and the nine years before that as associate dean. There, she led the creation of an entrepreneurship program; established LaunchU, a start-up accelerator and pitch competition; and created a department of Pedagogy, Advocacy and Community Engagement. She received her doctorate in musicology, focusing on 20th-century American music, at the Eastman School of Music and her master's and bachelor's degrees in musicology from the University of Western Ontario.

New England Conservatory has been run by interim president Tom Novak since Tony Woodcock stepped down from the post in June 2015. When he left NEC, Woodcock wrote that "the pressure to balance budgets in the face of scholarship demand and changes in philanthropic support" challenged him in ways he hadn't imagined. Woodcock at the time told the board that NEC needed a "different type of leader," with strong financial acumen and managerial abilities.

Kalyn comes to NEC at a time of growth. Last year, the school unveiled a new $85 million student life and performance center. Founded in 1867, NEC calls itself the oldest independent music school in the country.

Kalyn will start the position in January 2019.


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Amy Gorel Senior Editor
Amy Gorel is a senior editor of digital news at WBUR.



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