Photos, clockwise from left: René E. Machado; at the groundbreaking of the Ryan Center with Toni-Marie Montgomery and architects Michael Kaufman and Scott Seyer; during construction; with Montgomery as the building nears completion
René E. Machado, associate dean for administration, finance, and planning since 2001, will retire from the Bienen School at the conclusion of the 2022–23 academic year. For more than two decades, Machado has expertly served the Bienen community during seismic changes as a key member of the school’s leadership team, heading efforts to improve music facilities, advance business operations, establish financial stability, and bolster academic opportunities.
“I care deeply about our school and have felt privileged over these many years to be part of a truly special music school community consisting of so many talented and dedicated faculty and staff members, along with extraordinary students,” Machado says. “I am proud of all that we have accomplished together to advance our school’s important mission and reputation as part of a great university in a vibrant environment.”
Early in his tenure, Machado focused on establishing financial and administrative infrastructures to help the school more effectively manage its resources. He created flexible systems to support the school’s ambitions and changing needs, working closely with departments and programs as well as partners across campus. In his newly created role, Machado developed departmental and program budgets, established a structure for faculty and staff appointments, and increased the school’s focus on technology.
In 2002, Machado developed a comprehensive space-needs assessment for a potential new music building in collaboration with faculty and Northwestern’s facilities management division. As chair of the planning committee for the new building, he oversaw major milestones, including a feasibility study, an architectural competition, construction, and in 2015 the building’s completion. Throughout the process, Machado and Dean Toni-Marie Montgomery visited various music facilities under development or renovation and spoke with faculty and administrators at those institutions. Thanks to extensive research, the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts has exceeded all expectations.
As part of his expansive role, Machado has also supervised the ongoing maintenance of other school facilities, including Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Regenstein Hall of Music, and former school buildings. He has overseen overall academic administrative activities of the Bienen School, including integration of course planning and individually detailed appointments of more than 100 nontenured faculty members each year. He has also managed the Northwestern Music Academy, keyboard maintenance office, faculty support center, technology administration office, and other administrative areas.
Machado’s forward thinking and flexibility have served the school effectively through various challenges over the years, including the financial crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, Machado met regularly with Northwestern administrators and medical experts and developed new processes to respond to the music school’s particular needs. His tireless efforts allowed the Bienen School to offer more in-person activities during the pandemic than any other Northwestern school.
Before coming to Northwestern, Machado was assistant dean for administration at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Previously, he was administrative director and associate director of vocal studies at New York University. A countertenor, he specialized in vocal repertoire from the baroque to early 19th-century Italian opera. He performed as a soloist and member of various New York City–based ensembles, including Musica Sacra, Musica Aeterna, Camerata Singers, Bach Aria Group, New York Choral Artists, Sine Nomine Singers, Pomerium Ensemble, and Bel Canto Opera.