Berry Gordy gives $5 million to UCLA

Wave Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — Motown founder Berry Gordy has pledged a $5 million gift to UCLA to establish the UCLA Berry Gordy Music Industry Center, it was announced May 21.

The new center, launching in the 2024-25 academic year, will be part of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

“I’m thrilled to create a center that provides opportunities for students at UCLA to prepare for careers in the music industry,” Gordy said in a statement.

“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 21st century.”

A key component of the center will be initiatives designed to enhance career support, interweaving the music industry program with programs designed to support students as they launch into their music industry careers, especially students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, according to UCLA.

“This center will position the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music to become the leading music industry program in the world,” Eileen Strempel, inaugural dean of the school of music, said.

“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 21st century music industry.”

“Berry Gordy is an American treasure. 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,” said Michael Ostin, member of the dean’s advisory board and veteran of the entertainment industry. “He represents everything we want to embody in our music industry program. He is also known for his generosity, and 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.”

Gordy nurtured the careers of such renowned artists as Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, The Supremes, Diana Ross, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five, Michael Jackson, and a host of others. Motown became one of the most influential independent record companies in American history.

“I’ve always known Berry as generous and gracious,” said legendary singer and songwriter Smokey 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.”

UCLA said the center will support the development of new courses and specialized curriculum in songwriting and production. It also will provide funding for the building of partnerships with primary and secondary schools to foster awareness of music industry careers.

The Berry Gordy Music Industry Center in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music seeks to maintain and expand upon Gordy’s legacy of teaching and mentoring. 

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