A message on the status of the Department of Theatre
To all Theatre alumni, friends, current and prospective students:
In light of the recent news of academic program closures and reorganizations at UNI, I felt it was important to communicate to you about the status of our department and the anticipated impact of program closures on what we do.
In large part, Theatre was spared any major impact in this process. No part of our program was recommended for closure. It is true that the Communication-Theatre Teaching program has been recommended for re-structuring. The university will suspend admissions into that program for the 2012-13 school year while the process of restructuring occurs. In fact, this is something we had planned to do anyway, with a goal that the program be made more attractive to a larger population. We are proud of the quality teachers who have come through this program, and want to ensure that the components of the curriculum we shape now will be useful to the next generation of teachers. As this was already a goal prior to the announcement of program closures, I do not think the restructuring will take a substantially long time. In fact, it is our hope that even students who come to UNI next year (2012-13) will still be able to pursue this degree beginning in their sophomore year. This is possible because the coursework such students encounter in their first year is basic enough that they should be able to continue to access those courses and then declare into Communication-Theatre Teaching (or the newly-named program) as the 2013-14 academic year begins.
You may be aware that UNI has recommended the closure of Malcolm Price Laboratory School. In recent years, those students pursuing the Communication-Theatre Teaching degree have been provided with field teaching experiences in schools other than Price Lab.
There are many indications that our program continues to be valued on the UNI campus. Evidence of this support can be seen in the fact that we have just completed two national searches for faculty to join our department. You may be aware that Carol Colburn will retire at the end of this semester (which relates to the SECOND purpose of this message-- more explanation at the end.) One search resulted in a replacement for Carol. The other search-- which is almost concluded-- was for a Professor of Voice and Movement. The search process is both detailed and costly. It seems unlikely that we would have been allowed to make the offers we have made if there was impending danger of a program closure.
Additionally, we are very close to completing the process of applying for accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Theatre (check out our website in April for news of that decision!) This is also a process that took time and resources, including financial support from the university administration. We have received very positive feedback from NAST, and feel that their recommendation will be a positive one. Having such acknowledgment of program quality at the national level is something that will serve us well in the eyes of the university administration and will also hopefully strengthen our efforts to recruit students.
State and regional granting agencies continue to support projects driven by the department. Recent examples include support for:
- outreach to the Deaf community
- engagement of guest artists
- programming originating in our Drama and Theatre for Youth area that involves and includes youth on the autism spectrum
- the hosting of a Costume Society of America Conference which was accompanied by events spanning museum arts, dance and textile workshops highlighting the diversity of Iowa's heritage groups.
At the beginning of this school year our department launched the Performance and Dialogue Series. A staged adaptation of the book Zeitoun by Dave Eggers was presented to 250 incoming UNI students as part of a new Cornerstone course initiative that was piloted by the university. We have been invited to continue that collaboration as we begin next year.
The Strayer-Wood Theatre continues to hold a place on the long-term Capital Improvement plan at UNI. In fact, with the closing of the Price Lab School it seems likely that our “slot” for a renovation and expansion will be advanced by at least one year.
The Dean of our college, Joel Haack, included this statement in his message about the recent closures on campus:
“If the budget situation in the state stabilizes, we will be well positioned to allocate additional resources to strengthen the remaining programs and allow them to grow.”
We are fortunate and grateful to be among those programs. I want to thank the alums who have contacted us with concerns in response to the recent announcements. I want to share that we, as a department, continue to seek growth, produce quality theatre, engage a wide variety of students and see the results of those investments as students go on to successful placements as they leave UNI.
Now for Part Two of this message:
We want to do all we can to acknowledge the quality teaching and wonderful artistry that Carol Colburn has provided in the area of costuming during her 30-year career at UNI. Two of her colleagues in the costume area have asked for me to make the following request:
In celebration of Carol Colburn's retirement, we are asking alumni who worked with Carol on a production or had Carol as an instructor to submit a short story, a reflection or a sentiment. We will put these submissions into a PowerPoint slide show that includes production photos of her costume designs that correspond to the time you attended UNI. Thus, when submitting your thoughts, please include the years you attended UNI. The PowerPoint will "scroll" during the retirement reception on April 13 at 4 p.m. in the Commons Lounge and Porch. Through the years at UNI, Carol has been a wonderful teacher, a great influence and a constant supporter of her students. Please take a minute to put your thoughts in an email and send them to Linda.Grimm@uni.edu by April 2. Thanks,
Linda Grimm and Amy RohrBerg
And finally-- we hope to see many alums at the Alumni Reunion on April 13 and 14! If you can’t make it, we will miss you and hope to see you any time you can make it to Cedar Falls. Encourage your classmates to come! We are still hoping to gather pictures of shows you were involved in while you were here for a slide show during dinner. If you have photos you can contribute, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your contacts, your concerns and your support.