Though I must admit it saddens me to see another beautiful Maine summer begin to slip away, one of the things that has me so excited about the beginning of the new academic year is the launch of a new era in our Theatre program at USM.
Starting this fall, Andrew Harris, will be coming on full-time and will serve as department chair. Professor Harris is a well-known and respected figure in the Maine Theatre scene, with the local professional contacts we rely upon to supplement staffing and provide professional opportunities for our students throughout the state
We also welcome Professor Cary Libkin, who directed our spring musical this year, Reefer Madness. Professor Libkin is a nationally renowned director who has worked at major theatre programs around the country. Professor Libkin will be teaching theatre, musical theatre, and directing, and will lead the development of a strategic plan for the program.
Finally, we are greatly pleased to welcome Sara Valentine, our new faculty member in acting and directing. Professor Valentine was the overwhelming favorite of both the students and faculty. She has an impressive record as an artist and as an academic, and will be a great addition to the faculty at USM.
These three professors will join Professor Assunta Kent, our sole returning full-time faculty member. As of this fall, Professor Kent has been named chair of our Honors Faculty Council. Even with this leadership role in Honors, and teaching heavily in that program, the vast majority of her classes in Honors are cross-listed in Theatre.
We also welcome a new director of the Costume Shop, Anna Grywalski. Anna comes to us from Casper College in Wyoming. She received her M.F.A. from UCLA.
USM President Glenn Cummings and Provost Jeannine Uzzi have reaffirmed the University’s commitment to the Department of Theatre and the arts in general. We share a tremendous confidence in the growth of this vital program, due in no small part to the quality of student work and their commitment. As I sit out there in the dark of the audience, mesmerized by their courage and creativity, as dean of the College I am convinced that arts education is the salve to many of culture's "discontents." The arts give birth to empathy, tolerance, creativity, and non conformity, and none have demonstrated this more eloquently than our students.
And to you, alumni, friends and patrons of the Department of Theatre, thank you for your loyalty and patronage. Visit us often throughout the year in historic Russell Hall on the USM Gorham campus.
Adam Tuchinsky, interim dean
College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
University of Southern Maine