Spotlight On: Ryan Machtmes

December 1, 2017

Ryan MachtmesRyan Machtmes likes to say he grew up in academia. While his mother attained an A.B.D. in crop physiology and her Ph.D. in research methods in education, the family moved around a lot, but always in proximity to a college campus. Machtmes holds a masters degree in applied statistics (with a minor in research methods) from Louisiana State University, and is now on track to become a second-generation Ph.D. He is currently working on his dissertation in the department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, and hopes to graduate in 2021. In addition to inspiring him to pursue an advanced degree, he says, following the careers of his mother and many of his friends in academic careers affords him a measure of insight into the higher education system. These influences inform his work in University governance.

Machtmes serves on various University committees, including the Graduate Education Council, the Boreas Student Advisory Board out of the Institute on the Environment, the Bias Response and Referral Network Faculty and Student Consultative Committee, the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy Workgroup, and he is a co-founder of the newly-minted Organization for Graduate and Professional Students with Disabilities. His participation in University Senate shared governance includes membership on the Disabilities Issues Committee, as well as the Student Senate and the University Senate. “I’ve always been strongly committed to service work and servant leadership,” Machtmes said. “I spend a great amount of time just being of service to organizations that I think are important and carry out a mission that I believe in.”

Machtmes draws his energy for service from his family and his own professional experience. After obtaining his masters degree, Machtmes served in federal civil service in Washington, D.C., as a statistician and Presidential Management Fellow. Machtmes’ family also has a legacy of patriotic service, tracing back to the American Revolution. His grandfather served in the Korean War, and was decorated for this service, and his great-grandfather served in World War I. Machtmes states that “the purpose for my service is to improve the campus environment for all, since a diverse campus fosters diversity in the research enterprise.”

As someone with low vision, advocating for people with disabilities is one of Machtmes’ major passions. Currently, the Disabilities Issues Committee is examining several issues, including the need for faculty training around accommodation letters, space for accommodated testing, metrics on students with disabilities, and disparities in mental health services at the system campuses. In order to maximize committee effectiveness, several of these issues have been referred to small working groups. True to form, Machtmes volunteered to serve-- on all of them.

In addition to his various roles and positions across the University, Machtmes is a dog lover and sports aficionado. His favorite teams include the LSU Tigers, the Minnesota Vikings, and, of course, the Golden Gophers. He also enjoys ballroom dance-- although he doesn’t have much time for dancing these days, in the past he did so competitively. In particular, he enjoys West Coast Swing and Argentine Tango. Upon completion of his Ph.D. program, he plans to pursue a tenure-track faculty position in academia.