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Berklee College of Music receives $8.1M gift, the largest in school history

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  March 21, 2013 11:03 AM

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A Cambridge resident and music lover has bequeathed $8.1 million to Berklee College of Music.

Oliver Dyer Colvin, Jr., who died in 2011 at the age of 84, bequeathed the money to the school he often visited to hear students from around the world perform all styles of music, including his favorite, jazz. 

The donation is the largest gift in the college's 67-year history as well as the largest gift made to any institution for arts education in the United States last year and the second largest to an arts institution in the last 10 years, according to the Council for Aid to Education, a national source of information on private giving to higher education.

“Mr. Colvin loved to come hear Berklee students perform and, with this gift, he has helped us guarantee that the next generation of talented musicians will continue to advance the jazz tradition he enjoyed so much,” Berklee College of Music President Roger Brown said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful for his generosity.”

The school also plans to name a recital hall after Colvin in recognition of his gift. A busy, 100-seat performance hall on the first floor of Berklee’s 1140 Boylston St. building will be named the Oliver Colvin Room. His name will appear on the exterior wall of the hall that hosts student performances, clinics from renowned visiting artists, and classes.

Colvin was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and served with distinction as a naval officer during the Korean War. He served as a Boat Wave Commander of landing craft that brought soldiers and marines ashore at Inchon on the Korean coast. 

 After leaving the Navy, he worked at Sylvania Electric Products Inc., and later at International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. Colvin worked on defense contracts involving weapons systems and achieved Top Secret Security Clearance.

He went on to serve as Chairman of Cargocaire Engineering Corporation, a family owned business based in Amesbury that designs and builds de-humidification units that protect ships and cargo from moisture damage.

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