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Presidential Announcement

Announcing the 17th President of New England Conservatory

New England Conservatory Names Andrea Kalyn as New President
Andrea Kalyn
Andrea Kalyn will become the 17th president of New England Conservatory. Photo: Tanya Rosen-Jones

New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) announced today that Andrea Kalyn has been named as its 17th President. Currently serving as Dean of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Kalyn will be the first woman ever to hold the NEC presidency. Her appointment marks the culmination of an intensive, three-year search, and comes at a historic moment for the Boston-based conservatory, whose 150th anniversary last year was celebrated into the early months of 2018.

Kalyn looks forward to launching her NEC tenure in January 2019. She comments:

“Recognized worldwide for its excellence and commitment to great artistry, New England Conservatory of Music has a striking capacity to foster the development of highly imaginative individuals singularly equipped to navigate and shape a dynamic and multi-dimensional artistic world, to facilitate innovative and fruitful relationships among creators, performers, and audiences, and to design and establish within the broader community programs that foster musical engagement and creativity.

It is with the utmost honor, energy, and dedication that I look forward to the opportunity to work with NEC’s exceptional faculty, staff, and board of trustees towards the education of generations of alumni who will shape the profession, and indeed the very future of music.”

Kennett F. Burnes, Chair of the NEC Board of Trustees, adds:

“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. We are thrilled with her appointment as the next President of NEC and know she is the right person to lead NEC into the future.”

In her new role, Kalyn will report to NEC’s Board of Trustees and will work closely with its executive team, including the Provost and Dean of the College, Vice President of Finance and Operations, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, and Vice President of Administration. NEC’s last permanent leader, Tony Woodcock, stepped down from the presidency in June 2015, since when it has been ably run by Tom Novak, Interim President, Provost and Dean.

About Andrea Kalyn

At Oberlin College & Conservatory, Andrea Kalyn spent nine years as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs before being appointed Dean of the Conservatory and Professor of Music in February 2014. As chief academic officer of a school of 580 undergraduate musicians and 120 faculty and staff, Kalyn was responsible for establishing and implementing the vision and priorities of the conservatory within the context of Oberlin’s broader educational mission. She secured funding of more than $6.5 million, as well as significant donations of musical instruments and a major gift from jazz legend Sonny Rollins.

Kalyn played a lead role in the creation of Oberlin’s entrepreneurship program, Creativity & Leadership, and – as director of that program for seven years – she collaborated with an active group of alumni to establish LaunchU, Oberlin’s start-up accelerator and pitch competition. The spirit of both entrepreneurship and collaboration was evident throughout her curricular work, which included establishing the Oberlin-Como Piano Academy in partnership with the Lake Como International Academy; creating the department of Pedagogy, Advocacy, and Community Engagement (PACE); launching a new major in jazz voice; extending the programming of the American Roots residency; overseeing the launch of the Artist Diploma in Piano Technology and developing new partnerships with Steinway & Sons and the Shanghai Conservatory; and, in collaboration with Oberlin’s Dean of Arts and Sciences, designing Oberlin’s innovative Center for Convergence, StudiOC.

Kalyn is fundamentally committed to advancing the place of music in the world and to strengthening connections among composers, performers, and audiences. Under her leadership, Oberlin opened the William and Helen Birenbaum Innovation and Performance Space, an underground performance club in Oberlin’s new Gateway Complex; restructured its composition department, a project she initiated by hiring renowned composer Stephen Hartke as department chair; commissioned a full-length concerto for English horn by Bernard Rands in partnership with the Cleveland Orchestra and Oberlin professor Robert Walters; relaunched the Oberlin Music recording label distributed by Naxos; and supported significant connected-learning initiatives, including extended programming around opera performances and cross-disciplinary residencies by Jenny Koh, Billy Childs, Du Yun, Royce Vavrek, Mimi Xu, and others. The Oberlin Orchestra and Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble continued to tour extensively during her tenure, performing most notably at Chicago’s Symphony Center and Ganz Hall, Kennedy Center, Ojai Festival, and Bang on a Can Marathon, with upcoming performances in January 2019 at Carnegie Hall.

From formal outreach performances both on campus and off to pop-up concerts celebrating Oberlin’s 150th anniversary and informal ConFab listening parties, Kalyn sought to foster community at Oberlin through musical engagement. She served on the board of the Oberlin Center for the Arts, which she was instrumental in founding, and oversaw Oberlin’s Community Music School.

Kalyn frequently serves as a curricular consultant for other conservatories, universities, and colleges. She came to Oberlin from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she was Musicologist and Assistant Dean, having previously taught at Wake Forest University, Salem College, University of Rochester, and University of Western Ontario. She earned her PhD in musicology from the Eastman School of Music, focusing her scholarship on 20th-century American music, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in musicology from University of Western Ontario, as well as an Associate diploma (ARCT) in piano performance from Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music. In addition to presenting papers on the chamber music of Brahms, Schubert, and others, she has published articles on the composers Howard Hanson and Daniel Gregory Mason, as well as on topics related to entrepreneurship and curricular reform.

About New England Conservatory of Music (NEC)

Founded in 1867, NEC is the oldest independent school of music in the U.S. and a cultural icon of national and international standing. In delivering a superlative educational experience to more than 2,700 students across its College, Preparatory School, and School of Continuing Education, NEC draws on the deep reservoir of talent and experience of its 484 distinguished faculty (full- and part-time), a group of internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars who work across the conservatory’s three divisions. At all levels, an NEC education is at once rigorous and nurturing. Staff, faculty, and students attest to the power of the distinctively inclusive, encouraging, and supportive community one discovers at NEC.

NEC’s curriculum covers an expansive range of styles and traditions. Student instrumentalists, singers, and composers are trained in a broad array of methods, including classical, jazz, opera, composition, world music and early music. Innovative programming and creativity abounds. The conservatory boasts an unparalleled chamber music program and was the first conservatory in the nation to offer a degree in jazz. NEC also pioneered an innovative concentration in Contemporary Improvisation, and more recently has introduced entrepreneurship into its curricular offerings. Equipped with an extensive toolkit, NEC graduates step into the world as exceedingly adaptive musicians, going on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, arts management positions, and a broad range of music leadership roles worldwide. NEC produces some of the world’s most prolific 21st-century musicians.

© 21C Media Group, August 2018

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Press Contact

Glenn Petry
(212) 625 2038


Previous Updates:

June 6, 2018

Dear Members of the NEC Community, 

NEC’s search firm, Isaacson, Miller, has done an extraordinary job developing a deeply impressive, talented pool of candidates both in qualification and leadership experience. The Presidential Search Committee has carefully reviewed all of the candidates and spent several days interviewing a short list of semi-finalists. I am grateful to fellow members of the Search Committee who have spent countless hours devoted to finding NEC’s next leader.

The next step is for individuals to be invited for deeper conversations with the Search Committee and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. The work of the Search Committee will continue to be confidential. I look forward to sharing the next update with you in mid-July.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to New England Conservatory.


Kennett F. Burnes
Chair, NEC Board of Trustees


May 7, 2018

Dear Members of the NEC Community,

NEC’s search firm, Isaacson, Miller, has received positive feedback in their outreach around the Presidential Search and their conversations have underscored NEC’s position as a first rate conservatory.  The team at Isaacson, Miller is actively networking and speaking with a wide range of potential candidates and sources.  The Presidential Search Committee is beginning the process of reviewing candidate materials and is excited by the quality of those who have expressed interest to date. In June, the Presidential Search Committee will begin the process of interviewing candidates.

Again, inquiries, nominations, and applications may be submitted to the search firm in confidence at

The work of the search committee will continue to be confidential.  But in the meantime, you will receive monthly updates such as this one. Thank you for your continued support and dedication to New England Conservatory.


Kennett F. Burnes
Chair, NEC Board of Trustees


March 29, 2018

With the completion of the presidential position profile, Isaacson, Miller has embarked on the active recruitment of candidates.

As the search process continues, we will prioritize sharing updates with the broader NEC community when we are able through the Presidential Search page. Given the confidential nature of this process, there likely will not be a lot of detailed news to share until the conclusion of the search. However, know that we are committed to updating you on progress as regularly as possible. Please expect the next update to the community to occur in early May.  Until then, I invite you to access the Presidential Search page of the NEC website for full information about the search.

Inquiries, nominations, and applications may be submitted to the search firm in confidence at

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to New England Conservatory.


Kennett F. Burnes
Chair, NEC Board of Trustees


February 12, 2018

Dear NEC community,

We want to share important news about NEC’s Presidential Search—its status today as well as renewed plans for activity over the coming months. Responding both to our experience during the Search thus far, and to recent, new, exciting, institutional achievements at NEC, I have decided to reshape and refocus the search process.

NEC's progress

As you know, the Search was launched in the fall of 2015, informed by several months of focus groups and discussions among members of the NEC community about NEC’s direction and the characteristics of our next president. Under the capable and generous leadership of trustee Mike Thonis, the Search Committee, and our search consultants, NEC attracted a number of highly qualified candidates. NEC’s 150-year legacy, its international reputation, and its vitality today spark excitement and interest among accomplished, well-known, musician educators and institutional leaders. Searches are complex endeavors, however, and require perfect balance of factors such as timing, the willingness to relocate, the careers of partners, the status of families, and other competitive opportunities. Despite identifying several exceptional candidates the committee was enthusiastic about hiring, we had a series of unfortunate breaks that has left us with a continuing task of finding a president.

NEC has not, however, been standing still. Recent institutional progress has repositioned NEC for new leadership. This past year, we launched the celebration of NEC’s 150th anniversary. With events that drew leaders in music and in the life of the city, we opened the Student Life and Performance Center, an extraordinary cultural resource in the city of Boston, for students and for the public. We developed authentic and compelling mission and identity resources and set an action plan in place for revitalizing and building robust relationships with alumni, parents and the city at large.

A new search committee

As we entered the fall, Mike Thonis let me know that if the search had not concluded by year-end, he would need to step away as chair and concentrate on priorities he had put aside during his tenure. When it became clear that the Search would have to continue into the new year, we moved quickly to restructure an internal team at NEC to support the Search effort, retained an external research firm to survey the landscape and identify individuals and organizations doing innovative work in music, and began to reconsider our search process.

In order to move more quickly and decisively, I have named a new, smaller Search Committee comprised of six members who represent an excellent cross section of experience and expertise; and I will serve as chair. I am grateful that Mike has agreed to be part of this group, which also includes Tom Blumenthal, Barbara Glauber, Tom McGrath, Sally Rubin, and Chad Smith ’95, ’98. Their charge is to manage the recruitment process for the next NEC president, and to bring their recommendation to the board of trustees.

We are extremely grateful for the work and dedication of the original Presidential Search Committee members. This group did an exceptional job of articulating the leadership characteristics and vision NEC seeks while persistently and collaboratively pursuing every lead. So as not to lose the valuable knowledge and insights of this group, we will form a Presidential Search Advisory Group, which will include members of the previous search committee along with other constituencies in the NEC community.

A new search partner: Isaacson, Miller

We will be partnering with Isaacson, Miller Boston, for this search, and Sheryl Ash will serve as our liaison and consultant. Isaacson, Miller is nationally recognized for its successful searches in the higher education sector and the firm is passionate about its commitment to advance the particular aspirations of the institutions they serve. Sheryl is a managing partner and member of Isaacson Miller’s executive committee. She has built the firm’s arts in higher education practice, and she has particular depth of practice in board-led CEO-level searches.

In the coming weeks, we will invite you to access the Presidential Search page of the NEC website for full information about the search over time. Among other details, you will find NEC’s position prospectus; Search Committee and Advisory Group members’ names and a link for contacting the Committee; latest actions; update communications; and links to Isaacson Miller. As news develops, we will share it with the broader community through this web page. In the meantime, I welcome anyone to reach out to me at

To lead this exceptional living institution into the future, NEC will identify a visionary educator. The next president of NEC will energetically support and guide this learning and performing environment that gathers incredible musicians, inquisitive minds, world-class performers, composers, conductors and educators. He or she will be as committed, as we at NEC are, to the powerful expression of the highest caliber art and craft, and to making the history of music, here. Please join us with your interest and enthusiastic support.


Kennett F. Burnes
Chair, NEC Board of Trustees

Presidential Position Profile

Student Life and Performance Center

Presidential Position Profile: President, New England Conservatory

The New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) seeks in its seventeenth President a collaborative, strategic, and visionary leader who will build upon NEC’s rich 150-year history of distinction and innovation, embrace the opportunities and realities of today’s complex musical and artistic landscape, support and expand standards of excellence, and guide the Conservatory’s evolution into the future.

More Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Who hires the President?

The Board of Trustees is responsible for hiring the President of New England Conservatory. To manage the search process, the Board of Trustees has convened a Presidential Search Committee that will work with the search consultants and meet regularly throughout the process.


What is the general timeline for the search?

Isaacson, Miller will begin to market the position immediately. The Presidential Search Committee will review the candidate pool throughout the spring and aim to narrow the pool to a smaller group of candidates by late spring.  Semifinalist and finalist interviews will occur in the early part of the summer.


How and when will we be updated about the search process?

In the first week of each month, an email will be sent to all of NEC’s constituents with an update that respects the confidentiality of the process but provides an overall sense of the progress made.  A copy of each communication will be posted on this Presidential Search homepage.


How can I nominate an individual for the position?

Inquiries, nominations, candidate suggestions or applications may be directed to the search firm in confidence:

Nominate, Inquire, Apply


How can I be in touch with the Presidential Search Committee?

Please forward any suggestions, questions or concerns to

Presidential Search & Advisory Committees

Who is leading the search?

The Presidential Search Committee is charged with managing the search and recruitment process for the next NEC president.  The committee will evaluate candidates, as well as interview semi-finalists and finalists, ultimately forwarding a recommended finalist to the Board of Trustees.

Members of the Search Committee include:

Kennett F. Burnes               

Chair, NEC Board of Trustees; Lead Director, State Street Corporation

 Thomas W. Blumenthal

Vice Chair and Treasurer, NEC Board of Trustees; Partner, Co-Head Private Investment Group, The Baupost Group

Barbara W. Glauber                       

NEC Trustee; Trustee, Opera America

Thomas B. McGrath            

NEC Trustee; Chief Operating Officer, STX Entertainment

Thomas Novak

NEC Interim President

Sally L. Rubin                                   

NEC Trustee; former NEC Preparatory School and current NEC College parent; Director of Investments, Planned Giving, BNY Mellon

Chad T. Smith ’95 ‘98

NEC alumnus; NEC Trustee; COO, LA Phil

Michael Thonis                   

NEC Trustee; former NEC Preparatory School parent; Senior Advisor, Charlesbank Capital Partners


What is the role of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee?

The Presidential Search Advisory Committee ensures that key NEC stakeholder groups are represented in the search process. Many members of the Advisory Committee met with the search consultants from Isaacson, Miller to share their perspective on the search, and the Advisory Committee will aid the Search Committee and be part of the finalist interviews.

Members of the Search Advisory Committee:

Clint Bajakian '87 B.M.

NEC alumnus; NEC Trustee; Creative Director/Senior Composer, Pyramind Studios

Rebecca Bogers

Associate Dean and Director, Preparatory School

Hugh Wolff

NEC's Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras

Kathleen Kelly

Vice President of Institutional Advancement, NEC

Nicholas Kitchen ’92 AD

NEC alumnus; NEC faculty; Founding member, Borromeo String Quartet, NEC ensemble-in-residence

Laurence LesserPresident Emeritus

Joshua Major

Chair of Opera Studies, NEC

Efstratios Minakakis '04 M.M.

NEC alumnus; NEC faculty, Music Theory

Hankus Netsky

Co-Chair, Contemporary Improvisation

Kairyn Rainer

Vice President of Administration, NEC

Richard Svoboda

NEC faculty; NEC Preparatory School and College parent; Principal Bassoon, Boston Symphony Orchestra

Erica Washburn

Director of Choral Activities

Search Partner

Who is Isaacson, Miller?

Isaacson, Miller was founded in 1982 to recruit exceptional leaders for mission-driven organizations. Isaacson, Miller conducts over 300 senior-level executive searches each year and has completed over 6,000 searches over the past 36 years.

The firm works across the spectrum of organizations with public and civic missions, and their practice in higher education is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive; today it accounts for more than half of Isaacson, Miller’s work. They also do work in advocacy, arts and culture, conservation and environment, economic and community development, foundation leadership, healthcare, human services, and K-12 education. Consistently each year, more than 70 percent of their clients are organizations that returned to Isaacson, Miller for additional searches after being pleased with their past results.


Who from Isaacson, Miller is working with NEC?

Sheryl Ash, Vice President, is a managing partner and a member of Isaacson, Miller’s executive committee. Since joining the firm in 1996, Sheryl has built IM’s arts in higher education practice and is one of the leaders of the firm's K-12 practice. In addition to her work across the areas of education, philanthropy, arts and culture, and the environment, she has a particular depth of practice in board-led CEO-level searches. Sheryl's clients appreciate the deftness, sound judgment, and deep experience she brings to her leadership searches, as well as her unyielding commitment to client satisfaction.

Early in her career, Sheryl was an instructor for the North Carolina Outward Bound School and also developed programs in Connecticut public schools for gifted students in the arts. In addition, she was a teacher in both public and independent schools. These foundational experiences contribute to her passion for successfully placing leaders who can make a significant impact on their organizations—and the lives of others.

Katie Rockman, Managing Associate, joined Isaacson, Miller in 2012 and has served a variety of clients in the education sector, both K-12 organizations and colleges and universities, as well as several philanthropic organizations. She has conducted numerous higher education presidential searches, including placements at New York University, Central European University, The Julliard School, and EARTH University. Her deep experience across the firm’s K-12 work includes searches for heads of independent schools, foundation program directors and officers, and executive directors of state education departments and a charter association. 

Katie's prior work in education gives her first-hand knowledge of successful academic leadership. Before joining Isaacson, Miller, she was a member of the Office of External Relations at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where she helped create content and develop stewardship programs for the school's donor community. Earlier in her career, she worked for an educational recruiting company that specializes in placing K-12 teachers and administrators at independent schools across the country.

In all of her work, Katie brings a strong and consistent commitment to diversifying the leadership of the civic sector. Repeat clients, such as the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Hewlett Foundation, speak to her strength in building real and lasting partnerships.

Chloë Kanas, Associate, joined Isaacson, Miller in 2014 in a search coordinator capacity and transitioned to associate in 2017. As a managing search coordinator she advanced the firm's internal recruiting, practice improvement, and professional development initiatives while supporting multiple search teams. Prior to joining the firm, Chloë worked in nonprofit marketing and communications at Public Conversations Project, where she helped align the organization's marketing operations with larger strategic goals. Chloë has special interest in issues of women and gender; she has served in multiple intern positions with global and local LGBTQ organizations, and spent time teaching and advising queer youth. She began her career working in independent secondary education at Darrow School and has also served as a Harriet Newhall Fellow in the Office of Admission at Mount Holyoke College.


What relevant searches has Isaacson, Miller conducted?

Isaacson, Miller has deep experience in higher education, performing and visual arts education, and arts and culture searches. They have developed deep and expansive networks over the years that enable them to identify and attract candidates with the highest level of intellectual depth, creativity, and scholarly, artistic, and/or professional accomplishment.

Relevant searches include:

  • Arizona State University (Dean, Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts)
  • California Institute of the Arts (President; Provost)
  • Cleveland Institute of Music (President; Dean of the Conservatory)
  • Columbia College Chicago ( President; Provost; Dean, School of Fine & Performing Arts; Dean, School of Media Arts)
  • DePauw University (Dean, School of Music)
  • From the Top (Executive Director)
  • Interlochen Center for the Arts (President)
  • The Juilliard School (President)
  • Minnesota Orchestra (CEO; current search)
  • Oberlin College (Dean, Conservatory of Music)
  • Philadelphia Orchestra ( President and CEO)
  • Rhode Island School of Design (President)
  • San Francisco Symphony (CEO)
  • Settlement Music School (Executive Director)
  • Sound Postings/Office of Yo-Yo Ma (Executive Director)
  • University of Michigan (Dean, School of Music, Theatre & Dance; current search)
  • University of Minnesota (Director, School of Music)

Please be in touch with any suggestions or questions.

Get in touch