Celebrating Peter Cooke
A message from Dean Dan J. Martin:
Celebrating Peter Cooke as he retires from Carnegie Mellon University
Dear School of Drama community,
Earlier this summer, I wrote to all of you to inform you that Peter Cooke, AM PhD, decided to step down as head of the School of Drama to resume his practice as a designer and consultant, and to continue teaching in international arts academies. Today, Peter formally retires from the university and, later this fall, will be recognized as University Professor Emeritus of the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon.
As I said in early July, all of us are grateful to Peter for his creativity, generosity, artistry, and mentorship, and for sharing more than a decade of his life and spirit with all of us. During his tenure as head and in collaboration with Drama faculty/staff and university leadership, Peter was able to realize a great deal for the school, including:
- Recruiting additional faculty and staff across a number of divisions within the school;
- Establishing one of the university’s first diversity, equity and inclusion committees that invests in efforts to identify new and impactful initiatives to (a) provide public platforms for diverse voices to be heard and experienced, (b) increase the diversity of the student, staff and faculty populations, and (c) infuse racial and social justice awareness and programming across all dimensions of the school;
- Advocating for enhanced financial aid packages for students;
- Securing endowment funding for the graduate directing program;
- Developing and launching of one of the country’s first graduate programs in digital media design, along with introducing a number of undergraduate digital-arts course offerings in production and design;
- Expanding the school’s initiatives in mediated performance and devised theater, including the establishment of Digital Narratives (first known as Future Stages);
- Acquiring Studio 201 as an experimental teaching and performance center;
- Introducing technology across the school to enhance both teaching and production activities;
- Expanding the school’s international footprint through enhanced study-abroad opportunities, along with student and faculty participation in foreign symposia, workshops, and accreditation programs – and, with Advancement staff, raising funds to assist the students, staff and faculty participating in those international programs;
- Planning and directing the centenary celebrations of the School of Drama in New York City, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, resulting in the university’s largest assembly alumni on record (LA);
- Refurbishing and refitting the Chosky and Rauh theaters with updated lighting, sound, and automation technology;
- Developing designs for expanding the Purnell Center to accommodate new rehearsal spaces, courses offerings and technology-driven activities, and
- Connecting the local arts community, the national arts and entertainment institutions, industry leaders, and Drama alumni with the life and activities of the school.
In addition to this remarkable roster of achievements, Peter inspired all of us to do and be our best. He championed the pursuit of excellence for which Carnegie Mellon is noted and he further elevated the School of Drama’s premiere standing in the world of theater education.
Peter, the pandemic prevents us from sharing our appreciation with you in person, but please know that all of us are raising a glass this afternoon in recognition of your remarkable contributions to the education of theatre artists and scholars at Carnegie Mellon. Thank you. Best wishes for what we know will be your continuing success. We will miss you!