NEC Strategic Plan: Executive Summary

The goal of New England Conservatory’s Strategic Plan is to build and solidify NEC’s position as one of the preeminent music schools of the world. Comprising the College, the Preparatory School, and School of Continuing Education, NEC offers musicians elite training in a nurturing, student-centric, and intimate environment. Through their work in the studio, the classroom, and — quite importantly — throughout the community, and guided by distinguished faculty, students develop their artistry, their leadership, and communication skills so they can take their music out into the world for their own and society’s enrichment.

This Plan was launched by President Tony Woodcock, who felt that it should emanate from and belong to the entire institution rather than be the vision of a single person or small group of Trustees. It is, therefore, the product of a Conservatory-wide planning process that involved more than 200 individuals from all our constituencies.

Almost every element of the Conservatory came under review, but the planners were adamant that NEC’s core ideals remain inviolate. These are: the Conservatory’s student-centric focus, the need to preserve the intimate size of the College student body and one-on-one studio experience, the open access and enrollment of Preparatory and Continuing Education, and the hands-on, interactive nature of the community programs.

Many excellent ideas were broached — far more than could possibly be implemented in a single plan. Of these, five Strategic Priorities emerged and garnered broad support. They are:

Scholarship and Financial Aid. The College discount rate should be increased by 10% and the Preparatory School discount rate by 6.5%.

Distinctive Faculty and Programs. NEC must attract and retain the best College and Preparatory/Continuing Education faculty throughout the classical performance, composition, jazz, and Contemporary Improvisation studios, and the liberal arts, history and theory classrooms. Following on recent program enrichment in strings, chamber music, and orchestra, NEC will also work to develop the opera and voice programs and other departments. Further, it will initiate a thorough study of its graduate curriculum.

NEC will work to expand programs in both the Preparatory School and School of Continuing Education, also targeting the shortage of space that has constrained growth. Such expansion should increase the institution’s community reach and impact, but also generate more revenue.

A new program to be introduced is Professional Development Training, to arm College students with the additional skills they need to pursue a career.

NEC will also work to further develop and enhance its community engagement and strategic partnerships, including the creation of a local and national music education program based on Venezuela’s El Sistema.

Further, the Conservatory will seek opportunities to take its best large and small ensembles on tour — as we will do for the Jazz 40th Anniversary in 2009/2010 — to enhance the student experience as well as to raise visibility and provide a platform for the best of NEC.

Finally, marketing and public relations initiatives will be expanded to increase the school’s exposure, increase attendance at concerts, and support admissions and fundraising goals.

Student-centric Campus Redevelopment. NEC will design, restore, and build facilities to improve the student experience. The priorities are a new dormitory, library, and performance spaces. The Conservatory will also increase annual investment in facilities maintenance.

Technology. Under the Plan, NEC will build its technological capacities — including educational and customer service tools, and curriculum and distance learning capabilities.

New Revenue. The Conservatory will study and implement new methods to generate additional income

Executing the new Strategic Plan is projected to require substantial new investment. NEC has incorporated the cost of all projects into financial scenarios created for the next seven years. Some projects will be executed immediately; others will be phased in over several years. For the Plan to be sustainable, NEC will need to conduct a new capital campaign, with initial gifts being applied to Campus Redevelopment — and particularly a new dormitory. The timing of this campaign is contingent upon the national economy, but NEC’s position is not if, but when.

The last capital campaign, which concluded highly successfully in June 2008 with $115 million raised, created many essential foundations for development work, and fundamentally repositioned NEC in the philanthropic community.

With this Strategic Plan, we envision this virtuous loop: With even stronger departments and programs, much improved facilities and technological capacity, more competitive tuition discounts, and even broader and deeper roots within our area communities, the finest students and faculty will be attracted to NEC, which in turn continues to strengthen all departments and programs, enhance the compelling case for contributed funds, and open up new possibilities for additional revenue streams, which in turn fuels the strengthening of all key aspects of the Conservatory — and this loop cements NEC’s position as one of the preeminent music schools in the world.