The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music to Receive $5 Million Gift to Establish The Berry Gordy Music Industry Center

3 min read

New academic center amplifies Berry Gordy’s legacy and unparalleled career.

Berry Gordy, founder of the iconic record label and hit-making enterprise Motown, has pledged a $5 million gift to establish The UCLA Berry Gordy Music Industry Center. The new center, launching in the 2024/25 academic year, positions The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s new music industry program as a national leader.

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

The center will enrich the school of music’s music industry program, which officially launched in 2023. 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.

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

The center will support the development of new courses and specialized curriculum in songwriting and production. It will also provide funding for the building of partnerships with primary and secondary schools to foster awareness of music industry careers. Research sponsored by the center will investigate the intersection of technology and streaming algorithms with the concerns of social justice.

“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.”

Motown’s success throughout the 1960s and 1970s was spectacular, with over 110 of the label’s records ending up in the Billboard Top 100. Motown’s famous in-house approach of cultivating hits built a distinctive sound and look for its artists. 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.”

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. In keeping with the School of Music’s philosophy that music is best served when performance, academic research, and practical experience are combined, the center will support an interdisciplinary approach to creating an industry-integrated experience for undergraduates.


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music prepares students for twenty-first century music careers. Home to renowned musical scholars, music industry experts and world-class musicians, educators and composers within one institution, the school of music offers students an interdisciplinary education that prizes music performance and scholarship while also emphasizing active engagement in the greater Los Angeles community. Esteeming all musical traditions as vital expressions of an evolving global society, the school of music boasts over 40 musical ensembles performing music from around the globe. 

Founded as a stand-alone school of music in 2008 with a naming gift of $30 million from Herb Alpert, the school originally comprised the departments of ethnomusicology, music, and musicology and are now joined by interdisciplinary programs in global jazz studies and music industry, and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance. Herb Alpert School of Music graduates and faculty members are recipients of prestigious MacArthur fellowships, Grammy Awards, and Emmy Awards, and are leaders as composers, musicians, educators, scholars, and innovators in the music industry. Learn more at

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Russell Kelban
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