Union notes from Union / Management Meeting

Present – Michael Abraham, Prince Charles Alexander, Dennis Cecere, Peggy Codding, Peter Cokkinias, Beth Denisch, Marti Epstein, Rich Grudzinski, Danny Harrington, Teodros Kiros, Jeff Perry, Wendy Rolfe, David Scott, Jackson Schultz, Jeri Sykes, and Will Silvio.

Management – Larry Simpson, Jay Kennedy, Bill Whitney, Kari Juusela, Jeanine Cowan, Chris Connors, Camille Colatosti, Nikki Kirk, Roger Brown

    Jackson opened the meeting. This will serve as the Union/Management meeting next week.

        Roger Brown is the special guest to discuss the Vision of 2025. Also, the Union would like to meet with the Board of Trustees.

          Roger: The board meets four times a year and for four or five hours each time. They would be happy to meet with you or the entire Executive Committee. We will be around this summer, maybe that will be a good time.

          The Vision has been discussed at several meetings and the core curriculum has come up, students come for a wide variety of reasons, at times students may ask the question, do I really need this? If you look at our graduates the answer is yes. Imagine Dragons loved Atonal Solfege; so, the students will get over it.

          Vision 2025, open meetings with faculty and staff are coming up and we are willing to talk about all topics. What are we good at, where are the deficits? The meetings will be Tuesday and Thursday April 29 and May 1. To the extent that we can get people at these meetings and bring the topics and answer the question, what do we want this institution to be in 2025?

          UEC: Do you have any thoughts about what you would change right now, or any things that you would like to fix?

          Roger: 20% of our revenue comes from borrowed money. Our students walk out of here with on average 80k in debt. This is not a good thing. If you look at debt as a whole, the debt is not an issue; we have students from affluent backgrounds and a variety of other backgrounds, it’s specific to a certain population of students that are very eager to be here but cannot afford it. Simultaneously, you have to get financial aid and scholarships to help our upper semester students as well as our incoming students. As we dream up what we do for 2025, we can’t do it on the students back. We have articulation agreements with community colleges and 19 BIN schools for students to get two years of college locally and then come here and finish their degree. Some students come here with no hope financially of finishing, we have to try and tell them to go to another school. The articulation agreements, CBX, and the MOOC model could help students go quicker through the program with less debt.

          UEC: Are our alumni giving?

          Roger: If our graduates have large debt and they are struggling to survive out in the real world; it’s not easy to get them to give. Our bigger gifts come from people who love music, or City Music, etc. We have had several alumni gifts of six and seven figures, but overall, not very much from our alumni in general.

          On June 13, we are creating interest with the alumni by naming the lounges in the new 160 building with a party/concert/workshop. To celebrate where we have gone and where we are going. The rehearsal spaces are named after some favorite artists, Jimi Hendrix, Carol King, and James Brown. Trying to create a culture of giving and connection to their alma mater.

          UEC: A real motivator is to see this giving to go right to scholarships.

          Roger: The goal of the next capital campaign is 100 million. We have seen larger gifts growing over the past few years.

          UEC: The Union’s vision statement is upbeat and positive towards the future. One of our motivators to create this vision is the lack of a faculty presence in previous vision statements from the college.

          Roger: I appreciate the fact that you took the time to create this statement. We are trying to balance the needs of all the groups here, staff, faculty, and students. Each group feels at times they are feeling slighted.

          UEC: One point came up when we put this together; the treatment of our senior faculty. We hope that Berklee can take more time to recognize our senior faculty. It’s nice to have rooms named after you while you are alive and still here!

          Roger: If you all have ideas on how to do that, we are wide open. Sometimes we take for granted the ones that came before us, like John LaPorta, Herb Pomeroy, etc.

          UEC: So many of our faculty has so much knowledge about our history, can we do an oral history, etc. before they leave?

          Roger: The library is working on it right now, interviewing folks, etc. A good institution is not monolithic, Herb and Phil Wilson taught very differently.

          Sometimes, I think you all don’t think we appreciate what the Union does and how things were 30 years ago. Larry and I are not thinking up new ways to torture you, trust me. If we look at the last 9.5 years since I have been here we have had a good relationship. We talk about the Union all the time. Larry Simpson was hired to work with the Union and I don’t want to undermine his role.

          Another thing I have heard is the bloating of our admin and that we don’t care. 18% down to 13% for the overall admin expenses, we have found a way to be efficient and lower costs. We are working our tail off and it’s hard not to get my feelings hurt sometimes. We are all working hard for the same goal in mind.

          I am committed to keep the communication channels open, a bank account of trust. We are in the middle of something right now with the supplemental life insurance. We have done more conversions than we were required to do under the contract and we have created the 50-minute lesson – giving a 10-minute break. I just hope you know we are all on the same team.

          UEC: The union is reactive, we don’t create events that take place, and we sit back and watch and then react to it. Larry and I meet regularly, we have U/M meetings once a month. The items that have come up have been addressed.

          Roger: I have an open door policy with faculty and I also have an open door with the students. I had heard several stories that are not true told to me by students; overall our faculty members do the right thing. I encourage you to think the same way about the admin. I recognize that you have a job to do, you do it well, let’s keep channels open, solve the problems that need solving, and agree to disagree sometimes, and we will be fine.