Joseph W. Polisi

President Emeritus, Chief China Officer

Joseph W. Polisi Joseph W. Polisi


President Emeritus Joseph W. Polisi led The Juilliard School for thirty-four years (1984–2018), the longest presidential term in the history of the school. Upon stepping down from his distinguished tenure in June 2018, he became Chief China Officer, supervising overall development of The Tianjin Juilliard School. This new campus of Juilliard in Tianjin, China, offers selective, audition-based programs on pre-college and graduate levels; the graduate school is taught in English and offers a U.S.-accredited master’s degree from The Juilliard School in New York. There will also be public programs for adult learning and instrumental training, as well as an innovative learning environment, Juilliard Imagination, featuring interactive exhibitions curated for adults and children alike. 

Born in New York City, Dr. Polisi is an accomplished bassoonist who has performed as soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician throughout the United States as well as in major New York City venues. 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. He is the author of two books published by Amadeus Press: The Artist as Citizen (2005), a collection of his speeches and articles concerning the role of performing artists as leaders and communicators of human values; and  American Muse: The Life and Times of William Schuman (2008), the first full-length biography of the eminent composer and arts administrator. In 2016, Amadeus Press published a revised edition of The Artist as Citizen, and Beijing Normal University Press released a Chinese-language edition, titled The Artist as Leader, in China.

Before coming to Juilliard, 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.