About Us

A group of graduate students gathered in a restaurant posing for a photo


The Southern Pian Society is an affinity group for graduate students of color in the music department at Harvard, named after two tenured women of color in the department's history: Dr. Eileen Southern (1920-2002) and Dr. Rulan Pian (1922-2013). The group was founded in 2016 by Dr. Krystal Klingenberg and Dr. Matthew Leslie Santana.

In a co-written letter addressed to the faculty, the two then-grad students addressed the need for more non-white faculty, as well as the need for support of an affinity group for graduate students who self-identify as people of color. The group gets together to share experiences, support, and information necessary for navigating a particularly homogenous discipline and department, and arranges informal meetings with Harvard's visiting professors of color and with current and former faculty. We congregate around a commitment to strengthening the academic pipeline primarily through building supportive and sustainable networks at and beyond Harvard, and by centering shared experiences and subjectivities to build community. 

Our group believes that generational change stands as much on strong peer networks as it does on student-advisor relationships. We encourage other students in other departments to form such coalitions and for professors and administrators to support those efforts. 

Contact: Laurie Lee  |   laurielee@g.harvard.edu