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Berklee Names Erica Muhl Its New President

Veteran USC educator will become the Boston music college's fourth president—and first female one

Erica Muhl
Erica Muhl (courtesy of USC Iovine and Young Academy)

Erica Muhl will be the next president of Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, according to a press release sent by Berklee earlier today. Previously, Muhl spent 30 years at the University of Southern California, where she was dean and founding executive director of the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. An accomplished composer and conductor, she becomes the first female president of Berklee, and only the fourth president in the college’s 75-year history. Muhl begins her term in July of 2021, succeeding Roger H. Brown, who served as president for 17 years. 

“Erica has an impressive background as a musician and was one of the prime movers in the creation of the Iovine and Young Academy,” Brown said. “I believe it is one of the most innovative programs in all of American higher education, re-imagining education at the intersection of music, art, media, and technology.” 

Muhl was appointed executive director of the Iovine and Young Academy—founded with a $70 million endowment from Jimmy Iovine, founder and former chairman of Universal Music Group’s Interscope Geffen A&M Records, and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, multiplatinum hip-hop artist and entrepreneur—in 2013; in 2018 she was named its dean. Since the academy opened in 2014, it has cultivated a diverse student population that has surpassed national averages in similar programs each year since its opening. Across its undergraduate and graduate programs, the Academy’s 2019-2020 class had a gender ratio of 53% female/47% male, composed of 56% people of color and 24% underrepresented minorities. 

“Since the founding of the Iovine and Young Academy, Erica has been a central pulse of the operation,” Iovine said. “Dre and I had an idea to fuel innovation through a new style of education. Through Erica’s leadership, hard work and determination, she has realized our vision, building an amazing school to educate students where they really live, and one that is at the center of creativity, culture, and the global influence of connectivity that is only possible through technology. We know that Erica will do great things at Berklee. We look forward to continuing to work with her on educational experiences that matter, and that change lives.”

Muhl has also served as associate dean of the USC Thornton School of Music, where she had been a tenured professor of composition since 1990. Her compositions have been commissioned, performed, and broadcast by leading national and international organizations, such as Minnesota Opera, the New World Symphony, Italy’s Orchestra della RAI, National Public Radio, and Radio-Televisione Italiana. Muhl was assistant conductor for Los Angeles Opera Theater, Seattle Opera, and the Pacific Northwest Wagner Festival, and has regularly conducted her own works. She received early training in composition from the legendary Nadia Boulanger; completed advanced study with Franco Donatoni at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy; and earned a doctorate from USC Thornton. Muhl also studied conducting under Fritz Zweig, principal conductor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.