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Joseph W. Polisi, President of The Juilliard School

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Biography (Short)

Press Release Images

Juilliard President Joseph W. Polisi (Photo: Christian Steiner)
Juilliard President Joseph W. Polisi (Photo: Christian Steiner)

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Joseph W. Polisi became the sixth president of The Juilliard School in September 1984. Previously Dr. Polisi was Dean of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Dean of Faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, and Executive Officer of the Yale University School of Music. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale, as well as a degree in political science from the University of Connecticut and one in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. An accomplished bassoonist, Dr. Polisi has performed as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, as well as at The Juilliard School, Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and Avery Fisher Hall. He has written many scholarly and educational articles for professional journals, is a frequent speaker on arts and education issues, has produced several sound recordings, primarily focusing on contemporary American music, and has recorded a solo album of twentieth-century bassoon music for Crystal Records. His first book, The Artist as Citizen, was published by Amadeus Press in January 2005. His most recent book, American Muse: The Life and Times of William Schuman—the first complete biography of the distinguished composer and arts administrator—was published by Amadeus Press in October 2008.

Dr. Polisi’s twenty-nine years at Juilliard have been a time of vitality for the school, with the establishment of new student services and alumni programs, a revised curriculum, and an emphasis on the humanities and liberal arts. This period of growth also has seen the construction of the Meredith Willson Residence Hall, the creation of an exchange program with Columbia University and Barnard College, new emphasis on community outreach, a school-wide initiative to develop interdisciplinary programs, the creation of the Institute for Jazz Studies—a collaborative program with Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the development of a mentoring program open to all students. Dr. Polisi led the process of developing a comprehensive long-range plan for the school via The Campaign for Juilliard, a $150 million capital campaign dedicated to further increasing student financial aid and faculty compensation, as well as developing school-wide programs to prepare Juilliard students for the changing demands of the twenty-first century. Subsequently, the Campaign was expanded to a $300 million goal and renamed The Juilliard Second Century Fund. Dr. Polisi led Juilliard’s celebration of its centennial in the 2005–2006 academic year. In coordination with Carnegie Hall, he helped found the Carnegie Hall/Juilliard Academy launched in September 2006, a program that prepares post-graduate musicians for their roles as artistic and educational leaders. In March 2008 a new partnership between the Metropolitan Opera and Juilliard was created to prepare some of the finest young opera singers to enter the profession. At the same time, an early music program was introduced through master classes taught by William Christie and artists of Les Arts Florissants; this resulted in the September 2009 inauguration of a master’s program in historical performance. Dr. Polisi oversaw the planning and construction process for a $199 million renovation of the Juilliard building, completed in September 2009. In 2010 he founded Juilliard Global, a program to bring Juilliard expertise to selected sites around the world.

(May 2013)