As for innovation, I will use an orchestra analogy. The core business of an orchestra is the classical subscription series. But you also have to embrace series of other things to create audiences and resources. Orchestras need to be educators, advocates, communicators. Music schools also need to be thinking about how to develop audiences and people's connections with music.
Peabody has an obligation to infuse itself into the community. How do you train students to have a sense of community connectivity?
The building is a little bit forbidding and mysterious, a little bit isolated. People walk by and wonder: How do you get in here? I want to explore ways to open it up more.
The previous two deans expressed many of the same things.
When people say, "We tried that before," I don't know how they tried it, what importance they put on it, or if they stayed the course full time. I don't know if we've thought about it in a strategic way. Maybe the time wasn't right.
Institutions are not known for change, but I'm going to make the case that our ability to thrive, not just survive, will depend on doing some things differently.
It was an open secret that morale among the Peabody faculty worsened during the past several years. How will you go about trying to improve that situation?
Unhappiness, infighting in the institution — I'd like to see that change. I like to keep the drama out. There has been a little too much drama here. To me, that's wasted energy.
Engaging the faculty is important. That doesn't mean we will agree on everything. [Faculty members] don't have tenure at Peabody. They act like they do. There are some fantastic people here, but we need to bring the whole level up.
I had a very, very good relationship with my orchestra members, and I worked at that. I expect to have that relationship with the faculty. I used to have lunch with the orchestra every six weeks. I may do something like that here.
I consider myself a transparent person. I'm not a shrinking violet. I'm a collaborator. No one will ever accuse me of not trying.
Peabody doesn't have quite the cachet of the Juilliard School in New York or Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Do you think the school can make a bigger mark?
I've known Peabody for a long time. Anyone in the music world does. But I have not come across as many Peabody grads [in the orchestra business] as you might expect. I'd like to see that change. And Peabody is not being quite as involved in the national conversation as it should be.
I am working on a symposium in the fall that will bring in administrative staff, artists, people from the music world with a national and international perspective. The topic will be: How is classical music changing? This will be a good way to start the conversation and project the brand of Peabody.
Just as with orchestra presidents, a conservatory dean is expected to raise lots of money. Do you mind that part of the job?
Half of my time as an orchestra CEO was spent fundraising. When you believe in an institution, I think the fundraising is easy. And there is a little bit better economic environment now.
Donors are really interesting. They're very sophisticated; they understand they are making an investment, and there is a lot of satisfaction doing that. Those are your stockholders. You have to think of them like that.
People support excellence. That is the thing people respond to most.