Juilliard president is challenged by board chair’s evaluation but retains support of board

Posted on: March 16, 2022

“When the charismatic former New York City Ballet star Damian Woetzel was named president of the prestigious Juilliard School in 2017, the school’s powerful chairman, Bruce Kovner, praised his … intellectual and artistic qualities,” writes Robin Pogrebin in Monday’s (3/14) New York Times. “But earlier this year Kovner told Woetzel that an internal evaluation had found a lack of confidence in his leadership and asked him to resign by the end of June, a year before the end of his contract … Woetzel fought back and succeeded in rallying support behind him, getting testimonials from several eminent artists including the trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, who directs Juilliard’s jazz program, and the pianist Emanuel Ax, a leading member of the faculty. And he wrote in his letter to trustees that the performance review ‘was … highly inconsistent with best practice in nonprofit governance—it was conceived, initiated and managed by our board chairman.’… The trustees were informed of the evaluation and Kovner’s recommendation that he leave, but declined to take steps to ease Woetzel out…. Kovner declined to comment, and Juilliard … said … ‘the board strongly reaffirmed its support for President Damian Woetzel’ and the 10-year strategic plan … created in 2019.”