Remembering Dr. Lee Eliot Berk

The memory of the late Dr. Lee Berk is cherished and honored by New Mexico School for the Arts and NMSA-Art Institute. Dr. Berk played a pivotal role in the establishment of NMSA, generously dedicating his time and talents from the school’s very beginnings. He was particularly instrumental in the creation of the jazz program. Lee’s deep affection for NMSA and his close association with the institution were sentiments shared by his wife, Susan, who described his feelings with heartfelt words, saying, “He always spoke of it with joy.”


Dr. Lee Berk was a graduate of Brown University and received the degree of Juris Doctor from Boston University School of Law. He served as the second president of Boston’s Berklee College of Music, succeeding his father Lawrence Berk, who founded the college in 1945. Upon retiring, he was appointed President Emeritus and a member of the college’s Board of Overseers. Dr. Berk also was a leader in the establishment of the Boston Arts Academy, now Boston’s renowned high school for the visual and performing arts; and the Berklee City Music program. Dr. Berk received numerous awards and recognitions including the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for Best Book in Music for his book Legal Protection for the Creative Musician; the American Eagle Award from the National Music Council; the President’s Merit Award from The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences; the Lifetime Achievement Award from NAMM – the International Music Products Association; the Humanitarian Award from the International Association for Jazz Education; and the Imperial Decoration, the Order of the Rising Sun from Japan. He is also the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from Berklee College of Music and Columbia College Chicago. Dr. Berk is the Chairman of the New Mexico Music Commission and founded the Friends of Santa Fe Jazz and the Jewish Arts and Culture Group of Santa Fe and served on the board of SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives) counseling non profit organizations. 

Thank you, Dr. Berk. You will be deeply missed.