December 2, 2014: Quarterly Update

As I approach the six-month mark as dean of the Peabody Institute, I am excited about the work that in which we are engaged at Peabody.  We are entering an energizing process of repositioning the Institute within the world of music conservatories, in our home community of Baltimore, and within the multi-faceted and dynamic framework of The Johns Hopkins University.  The years ahead will be a stimulating period of growth, focused on excellence, innovation, and leading the way in adapting to the changes in the American and international classical music landscape.  As we work to accomplish big goals, it is vital that we clearly articulate those key objectives as well as our next steps moving forward.

Sharpening Our Vision – Four Pillars

To begin, our success requires clarity about important long-term goals through a sharpening of our vision in key areas as follows:

  • Excellence: make the Peabody Conservatory as competitive as the top programs at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine;
  • Interdisciplinary experiences: “own” the interdisciplinary space as a unique competitive edge for Peabody and JHU;
  • Innovation: build on-line content that can be delivered far beyond Peabody’s current base and establish Peabody as a leader in the national dialogue about the arts and music education;
  • Community connectivity: build strong relationships through meaningful collaborations, instilling in all our students an understanding of, enthusiasm for, and skill set suited to the role they will play in communities, consistent with what it will mean to be an artist in the 21stcentury.

“Breakthrough Plan” – the next 24 months

Our success ultimately requires that we build the capability to reach these longer-term objectives.  To accomplish this, we are implementing our “Breakthrough Plan,” focusing on important structural refinements and capacity building work over the next two years, as follows:

  • Align Institute structure to strategic objectives
    • Build on JHU decision to consolidate the roles of Director and Dean into Dean of the Institute.
    • Professionalize the Institute and align structure with key strategic objectives.
  • Teaching Ourselves – Increasing Capacity
    • Strengthen the Conservatory’s enrollment function through development of a portfolio management system, deeper faculty engagement in recruitment, streamlined and improved web content and social media, and refinements in our scholarship award system.
    • Execute research necessary to determine perceptions of Peabody internal and external as well as brand studies to help inform messaging, marketing, website design, and programmatic decisions.
  • Engaging and Developing Faculty
    • Rethink faculty governance to ensure faculty have a clear avenue to provide substantive and appropriate input.
    • Develop a new contract and evaluation system that promotes excellence, accountability and financial sustainability.
    • Encourage and invest in faculty generation of new ideas that speak to Peabody’s goals.
    • Make investments in curriculum that could have tangible future revenue benefits as well as academic significance (e.g. new programs in music therapy, arts leadership, etc.).

This transitional plan will require additional resources to make investments in infrastructure, expertise and innovation.  In order to accomplish our goals, we have established a special Dean’s Fund, raising $2.5 million to support the Breakthrough Plan.  I am very pleased to report that JHU President Ron Daniels has made a generous 2:1 challenge to raise these dollars; the President’s Office will contribute $1.7 million toward this initiative once the Peabody National Advisory Council pledges $800,000.  This matching challenge is a wonderful demonstration of University leadership’s investment in strengthening Peabody.  Our goal is to complete this special fundraising initiative by January, 2015.

Moving Forward to a New Model

Looking beyond the two-year horizon, we are beginning the important work of refining our academic and business model for the Peabody Institute. We have begun to articulate this effort within these parameters:

  • The opportunity and need exists to build on a great history by reinvigorating the Peabody Institute for the 21st century
    • Rethink the Conservatory’s financial and academic model in a way that ensures increased excellence, selectivity and financial sustainability; and
    • Simultaneously plan new initiatives in the interdisciplinary space, innovative learning, and community connectivity that broaden the vision and footprint of the Peabody Institute across the University, throughout the region, nationally and internationally.

We are focused on continuing to build a unique program designed to propel our students forward as artists of the 21st Century, and bring the Institute to the forefront of arts education both nationally and internationally.  I am grateful for your continued interest in Peabody and look forward to sharing our progress and successes in the future.

Please accept my best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.

Fred Bronstein