College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

University of Southern Maine Professor to Receive Kennedy Center Medallion for Theatre Education

PORTLAND, Maine – A well-known and popular theatre professor at the University of Southern Maine (USM) has been named the recipient of the Kennedy Center Medallion for his commitment to theatre education.

William Kilroy, USM professor of theatre who is in his 21st year of teaching at the university, will be honored in January by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) for excellence in theatre education. 

The Kennedy Center Medallion is the most prestigious regional award given by KCACTF and is considered one of the great honors in theatre education. It is awarded to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theatre and who have significantly dedicated their time, artistry and enthusiasm to the development of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

“I work with many outstanding colleagues in the region, and I am honored that they chose me for this prestigious award,” Kilroy responded. “I have great respect for the work they do, and I am deeply touched that they would select me as the Kennedy Center Medallion recipient.” 

“Wil is an outstanding member of our college faculty, not only for his university teaching and scholarship, but also for his extensive outside contributions to theatre education through such organizations as the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival,” said Lynn Kuzma, dean of USM’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  “In addition to being an accomplished actor, Wil has reached out to numerous students of all ages, high school, college and adult, to help them develop into skilled professionals. We are very proud that he is receiving this well-deserved honor.” 

Kilroy has been asked to be the guest of honor at a reception in January in Hyannis, Mass., but ironically he may not be able to attend because he will be performing in a play in Portland. Next month, he is playing the part of a car salesman in the dark comedy, “Becky’s New Car” by Steven Dietz, presented by the Good Theatre. 

“Like any working actor, you have to take the jobs when they come along, and I couldn’t turn down this very funny play,” Kilroy said, with a smile. “I made the commitment before I knew about the award.”

Kilroy also is performing this month as the character “Dr. Coppelius” in the State Ballet of Rhode Island’s production of the ballet, “Coppelia,” in Providence.

Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center's founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide that has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the U.S. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.

Kilroy has worked with the KCACTF in the Northeast Region 1, which includes New England, New York and New Jersey, for about 20 years. Previously, he was chairman of the regional festival for two years; has been co-teaching the respondents workshops, which train faculty to review college productions and give feedback, for about eight years; and has taught other workshops, including the Michael Chekhov style of acting. He also is a KCACTF respondent and has traveled all over the region to review college and university theatre productions. 

The USM professor is the KCACTF representative of the National Partners of American Theatre (NAPAT) and helps select the regional recipient of the annual NAPAT Classical Acting Award. 

Kilroy, who is a member of the SAG-AFTRA union and has extensive theatre, film and television roles to his credit, earned his master of fine arts degree at the University of Illinois. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is vice president and co-founder of the National Michael Chekhov Association, providing national and international workshops in the Chekhov method of acting. Kilroy also is the director of the long-running USM Summer Theatre Academy for 13-to-18 year olds and has additional teaching credits for international programs in London and Greece. 

During the coming semester at USM, Kilroy will direct the unique musical, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” by Rupert Holmes. The sinister and hilarious, Tony Award-winning musical allows the audience to choose the ending. It will be performed in March in connection with the USM School of Music. 

For more information about KCACTF Region 1, go to:

For more information about the USM Department of Theatre, go to: