Berry Gordy Gifts $5 Million to Establish New Music Industry Center at UCLA

Music industry legend and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. has pledged $5 million to establish The UCLA Berry Gordy Music Industry Center. The center  — launched in affiliation with The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music — will open during the 2024/2025 academic year.

“I’m thrilled to create a center that provides opportunities for students at UCLA to prepare for careers in the music industry,” said Gordy in a news release. “Music is powerful, inspiring, universal, crossing over political, cultural, social and economic barriers.  It reaches ALL people and has been the guiding force in my life. These students will be the future innovators, artists, and executives that will lead us through the twenty-first century.”

“This center will position The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music to become the leading music industry program in the world,” stated Eileen Strempel, inaugural dean of the school of music. “It will help empower us to recruit and attract the best faculty and students, and to conduct research in cutting-edge fields. Thanks to Mr. Gordy’s gift, our program will be the leading force in shaping the twenty-first century music industry.”

Dedicated to expanding Gordy’s legacy of teaching and mentoring, the center will support the development of new courses and offer a specialized curriculum in songwriting and production. To further raise awareness about careers in the music industry, the center will provide funding to create partnerships with primary and secondary schools. It will also sponsor research for explorations into technology, streaming algorithms and social justice.

“Berry Gordy is an American treasure,” said fellow music industry veteran Michael Ostin who is also a member of the dean’s advisory board. “What he created at Motown was truly remarkable as he combined creative and business acumen in a way that it had never been done before. He represents everything we want to embody in our music industry program. He is also known for his generosity. It is no surprise that Berry would make such a benevolent and transformative gift to help educate and train our next generation of industry leaders.”

Under Gordy’s direction, Motown Records became one of the music industry’s most successful and influential independent record companies. Its legendary roster of hitmakers includes Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, Diana Ross, The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five, among a host of others. 

“I’ve always known Berry as generous and gracious,” commented Robinson. “At the start of my career, I benefitted from Berry’s mentorship. He was always a teacher at heart. What I love about this center is that it is guided by his philosophy that truly great music comes from nurturing young talent and getting them to think holistically about their art and their careers.”

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