As the inaugural executive director for Berklee College of Music, Ron Savage is integral to the core leadership team of Berklee, involved with formulating strategy for the entire organization, including the development of new models for education, new academic programs, career development efforts, student success, community outreach to aspiring musicians in underserved communities, and more. In this role, Savage has responsibility for oversight and direction of all academic programs, facilities, operations, and faculty and staff for the college’s three divisions.
Savage has distinguished himself over four decades at Berklee as a student, a faculty member, and an academic leader, and brings a wealth of experience and perspective to this role. Savage previously served as dean of the Professional Performance Division (PPD) beginning in 2018, overseeing all aspects of Berklee's music performance curriculum, including private lessons, labs, ear training, and ensembles. As dean, he championed successful initiatives on diverse hiring, new curriculum development, and student recruitment. He is the cochair and cofounder of the Berklee Black Scholars Initiative (BSI), which was established with the goal of fostering a strong sense of community, support, belonging, and cultural history for Black and African American students through mentoring, advising, programs, and events.
Savage joined Berklee’s faculty in 1993 to teach ear training, and also made an impact teaching in the Percussion and Ensemble departments. He was appointed chair of the Ensemble Department in 2000 and served in that role for 17 years before being named interim dean of PPD. As chair, Savage worked to significantly increase the musical diversity of Berklee’s ensemble offerings to include gypsy jazz, acoustic blues, neo-soul, women in rock, heavy metal, dub reggae, and many more. During his tenure, Savage has been a key member of Berklee’s admissions team, recognizing outstanding musical talent through more than 10,000 auditions at sites around the world.
An acclaimed drummer with a special focus on jazz and blues, Savage has performed in 48 U.S. states and in 46 countries with a wide array of artists, including James Moody, Clark Terry, Curtis Fuller, Mulgrew Miller, and Nnenna Freelon. He also has extensive professional experience in television, studio production, film, and music therapy. He has served as president of the All Dorchester Sports & Leadership program and as a board member for the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge. Additionally, he founded the Cambridge Jazz Festival, the Johnny Hodges Scholarship Fund, and the Ron Savage Music Academy, which is committed to providing inner-city youth with affordable music lessons and instruments.
Savage graduated from Berklee in 1984 with a degree in performance.