Melody Racine, senior associate dean for academic, faculty, and student affairs at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) will step in as interim dean of the school, effective Aug. 16. The university's Board of Regents today approved Racine's appointment.
Racine will take over for Aaron Dworkin who earlier this spring announced that he will step down from his role as dean to serve as a tenured professor of music at SMTD, where he will teach entrepreneurship and arts leadership.
"Professor Racine is an accomplished mezzo soprano, a master teacher and a skilled and effective administrator. Over several years of increasing administrative responsibility in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, she has demonstrated an impressive ability to understand, lead, and support the programs and activities of the school and to engage its many stakeholders," said Paul N. Courant, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
"I am confident that under her leadership the school will continue to enhance its excellence in the performing arts as well as its innovation in education and outreach."
In her role as interim dean, Racine said she is eager and is grateful to have this opportunity to build upon the accomplishments of previous deans.
"It is a privilege to serve as acting dean at SMTD following Aaron Dworkin's dynamic two years of visionary leadership, as well as that of his predecessor, Dean Christopher Kendall, with whom I worked closely throughout his tenure," said Racine.
"I look forward to building on their exciting accomplishments and working with our excellent faculty, staff, and students as we continue to train the next generation of leading artists and scholars in the performing arts."
A tenured associate professor of music, teaching voice in classical performance and musical theatre, Racine is former chair of the Department of Voice and is a recipient of the Harold Haugh Award for excellence in studio instruction.
She received a BA in music and elementary education from the University of Michigan-Flint followed by an MM in vocal performance at SMTD. She began her academic career at the school as a lecturer, and went on to become a clinical assistant professor of music. She was promoted to clinical associate professor of music before serving as chair of the Voice Department.
She was named associate dean of academic affairs in 2011, with the title later amended to associate dean for academic and student affairs, to more fully capture the responsibilities encompassed within the position. The title was again changed in 2016, to senior associate dean for academic, faculty and student affairs, to reflect Racine's increased responsibilities in the management of the school.
In her current role, Racine is responsible for educational policy and academic programs and many aspects of faculty administration. She has oversight and management of an $11 million scholarship budget and the scholarship committee; the dispensation of miscellaneous funds for student and faculty use; the undergraduate curriculum and SMTD study abroad; faculty mentorship programs and the school's entrepreneurship and career development program; faculty loads and lecturer contracts; the registrar office; the scheduling office and policies; ensemble operations; academic discipline; and some of SMTD's high profile events, such as commencement, and the annual Concerto Competition and Scholarship Showcase.
Racine has maintained a teaching profile throughout her tenure in administration, as she believes that this contact with students keeps her in touch with what matters most to them in the educational environment. Among the many acclaimed singers that she has taught are Gavin Creel, winner of a 2017 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for his role in Hello Dolly; and Justin Paul, who, with fellow SMTD alum Benj Pasek, won the 2017 award for Best Score for Dear Evan Hansen. Other former students include Celia Keenan-Bolger, Hailey Clark, Alex Gemignani, Daniel Reichard and Vince Yi, along with many others who are presently making a difference in opera and musical theatre.
In addition to her teaching and administrative responsibilities, Racine continues to perform though her love for SMTD administration plays a more primary role. At home, she is honored to have sung with U-M's Professor Martin Katz, world-renowned collaborative pianist. Her singing has taken her to music festivals in Aspen and Tanglewood, along with concert, oratorio, and operatic stages all over the United States and in Italy. She has performed leading roles in Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte, Così fan tutte, Turn of the Screw, Der fliegende Hollander, Lakmé, and Four Saints in Three Acts, among others.