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Preserving Institutional Pride

July/August 2018


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On June 1, 2016, the Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory merged to become one institution with a shared vision focused on global leadership in performing arts education (music, dance, and theater). Before the merger, Berklee was considered a global leader in contemporary music education, both on campus and online; while the Boston Conservatory delivered excellent programs across dance, musical theater, and music. Together, we aspire to transform arts education, empowering artists to fully realize their creative and career potential, while preserving the unique institutional pride that we each bring to the new organization.

Two years later, progress since the merger has been strong. Applications to Conservatory programs have grown by double digits each year. Post-merger integration, particularly in key administrative areas—accounting, finance, treasury, legal, public safety, and facilities—is essentially complete; systems integration is one area still in process. We’ve successfully introduced new programming that plays to the strengths of the combined institution. And financial progress is right on track. 

In reflecting on our merger and post-merger integration, we’ve identified several factors critical in our success: 

With any talk of a merger, naysayers will emerge. Frequent and substantive communication with faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, and other stakeholders keeps the entire campus community engaged and upbeat about the possibilities that come with a merger.   

There are many other critical elements (governance, financial pro formas, financial aid, working with regulators and accreditors, and so forth) to successfully executing a merger between higher education institutions.  If done properly, however, the benefits can be substantial.  

RICHARD “MAC” HISEY is senior vice president of administration and finance and chief financial officer, Berklee College of Music, Boston.

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Identify potential early wins from the outset of the process and then deliver. It helps the entire community feel good about the merger.