EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University’s School of Music will be named the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music in honor of the retiring University president and his wife, announced Patrick G. Ryan, chair of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees today (May 13, 2008). President Bienen, who announced in March that he plans to retire next year, and his wife, Leigh, are avid music-lovers and strong supporters of the arts, including the School of Music.
“The naming of the school is being made possible through the generosity of trustees, alumni and friends of the University who wish to honor the legacy of the Bienens,” Ryan said. “There could be no more fitting way to recognize all the things that Henry has done for the School of Music and the entire University than to build a lasting endowment that will support one of the areas of the University closest to his heart.
“Henry has been an unparalleled academic leader, a remarkably successful steward of the University finances and a consistent advocate for the arts at Northwestern,” Ryan added. “I know my fellow trustees, alumni and other friends of the University will join me in endowing the music school in his and Leigh’s honor.”
President Bienen said, “Leigh and I are truly honored by this magnificent gesture by Chairman Ryan, members of the Board of Trustees and alumni. As two people who love music, we’re obviously very gratified and proud that our name will be forever associated with Northwestern’s outstanding School of Music.”
Northwestern’s Board of Trustees recently approved the naming, which will be implemented next fall at the start of the academic year. The new endowment will support the general operations of the music school, including scholarships, professorships and new creative and scholarly initiatives.
President Bienen and music school dean Toni-Marie Montgomery announced last month that Northwestern will construct a new building for the school. To be situated on the prime location of the south end of Northwestern’s lakefront campus in Evanston and designed by an architect who will be selected through a design competition, the new home of the music school will be visible for miles and is expected to become an iconic building on Northwestern’s campus. Fundraising has already begun for the new facility, in addition to the campaign to endow the school.
“The new building, coupled with the new endowment fund for the school, will ensure that we will continue to have a premier music school and help make it even greater,” President Bienen said.
“The School of Music is honored to bear the Bienen name, recognizing Henry and Leigh Bienen’s love of music and support for the arts,” Montgomery said. “When the next history of Northwestern is written, Henry Bienen’s presidency will clearly be seen as transformational. Our faculty, students and staff will strive to embrace the bold ambitions and uncompromising standards that have been hallmarks of the Bienen presidency.”
Henry Bienen became the 15th president of Northwestern on Jan. 1, 1995. During his tenure, the University has gained increasing academic prominence, attracted ever-better faculty and students, been strengthened financially and enjoyed unprecedented athletic success.
The Northwestern University School of Music is one of the oldest degree-granting music schools in the United States, combining the resources of a world-class private research university with conservatory-level music training. The school is home to 640 undergraduate and graduate students and a world-renowned faculty of more than 125, many of whom are members of the Chicago Symphony and Chicago Lyric Opera orchestras. School of Music alumni are found in major arts institutions and universities, worldwide, in performance, teaching and arts administration.