Option Leadership in the School of Drama
Announcing Changes in Drama Option Leadership
June 22, 2022
As the 2022/2023 academic year approaches, leadership changes have been announced for several program options in the School of Drama. Each of the six program options (Acting/Music Theater, Design, Directing, Dramaturgy, Dramatic Writing, and Production Technology & Management) is led by an Option Coordinator, who is responsible for shepherding the shared curricular goals of each discipline. Option Coordinators liaise with students, faculty, leadership, university resources, alumni, and professionals in their area to ensure the best possible educational experience for the CMU Drama community.
With several Option Coordinators stepping down, and new leadership stepping in, the School of Drama gratefully acknowledges the dedicated work of these faculty members.
Outgoing Option Coordinator
Professor Catherine Moore is stepping down as Option Coordinator for Acting/MT; however, she will be actively engaged with incoming leadership to help ensure a smooth transition through the summer and into the fall and will continue with her work in the classroom and on stage at the School.
“Professor Moore has led the Acting/MT Option through the most challenging time in the history of the School of Drama,” said Anne Mundell, interim head of school. “Her leadership was instrumental in Acting/MT’s successful pivot to teaching and learning across a spectrum of modalities, and provided an unshakable foundation for the extraordinary Acting/MT faculty’s efforts to do what no one would have thought possible two and a half years ago. Professor Moore has been a source of stability, continuity and brilliant problem-solving during a period of rapid leadership turnover. I am immensely grateful for her partnership this year. Professor Moore has also been instrumental in supporting the important work of our long overdue cultural evolution toward becoming a community that celebrates, supports and nurtures the full spectrum of lived experiences and learning journeys. There is no institutional roadmap for achieving deep and meaningful cultural transformation, but Professor Moore has faced the pressures with unwavering courage, generosity, humility, creativity and dedication. During her time as OC, Professor Moore also maintained a full teaching load and continued her work as one of the founders/producers of Playground. She produced the option showcases, and continued to strengthen relationships with alumni and the profession and she led three pandemic showcase process reinventions. She’s clarified policy and procedure, become a central participant in the audition process, provided support for faculty and has been a brilliant liaison and representative for the option. Professor Moore’s dedication to students can’t be overstated; she knows each student’s strengths and challenges and is committed to their success. Her impact is immeasurable, extending far beyond what I’ve mentioned here. Our community is deeply indebted to Professor Moore. I know I speak for all of us when I say thank you, Catherine.”
Incoming Option Coordinator
Professor Rick Edinger will undertake the role of Option Coordinator. He has already begun working and collaborating with leadership, Professor Moore, and incoming Associate Option Coordinators.
“I am excited to see where Professor Edinger’s energy, natural leadership qualities, administrative and communication skills, creativity, and unselfish dedication to the School will take the Option,” said Professor Mundell.
Associate Option Coordinators
The work of administering the Acting/MT option is complex and the workload is significant. As such, the Option Coordinator has been supported by two Assistant Option Coordinators. Moving forward, this model will change slightly, and in an effort to more accurately reflect the work undertaken, the title will now be Associate Option Coordinators.
Professor Gary Kline has stepped down from his role as Assistant Option Coordinator for Music Theater, a role which he’s held across the OC terms of both Professor Moore and Professor Wadsworth. Professor Kline will continue his work at the School of Drama in the studio, classrooms and as an advocate for the program.
“Professor Kline’s passion for and dedication to Music Theater education can not be overstated,” said Professor Mundell. “He has been one of the primary architects of the Musical Theater Program in the School of Drama and is one of the major reasons it is now considered one of the best programs in the world. He has forged and nurtured numerous industry relationships and has been responsible for ongoing engagement and program support from some of the artists who shaped the industry into which our students graduate. He’s been part of the School Music Theater Audition process for many years. Professor Kline has worked tirelessly to create professional caliber opportunities and interactions with industry leaders. Examples include the School of Drama Junior Music Theater Ensemble’s Annual Cabaret which is an opportunity for students to work with some of the industry’s most talented composers and to perform in a professional venue and his role in helping to initiate the CMU/CLO New Works Partnership and a National Partnership with CLO, ASCAP and Stephen Schwartz’ New Writer’s Workshops, Professor Kline has our immense gratitude.”
Professor Kaf Warman will continue her work with the title of Associate Option Coordinator.
“Professor Warman manages the casting process, working tirelessly to align student goals, learning objectives, and individual student needs with season selection and nearly infinite number of other variables. Professor Warman liaises with the Lab Review Committee on casting needs and limitations during season selection and calendaring. She also has contributes to many other organizational efforts including Study Abroad (in collaboration with Barbara Mackenzie Wood), and assigning students to course sections. We are very grateful for Kaf’s willingness to continue her generous service,” said Professor Mundell.
Professor Judy Conte joins the team of Associate Option Coordinators officially this year.
“Many in the School may not be aware that for many years, Professor Conte has been responsible for developing the class schedule for the Acting/MT Option. It’s a complex matrix and as with many things in the School, if one piece gets moved everything else has to be rethought. Professor Conte’s work also ensures that training sequences are unbroken. She collaborates with Amy Nichols to coordinate classroom and studio spaces. She also coordinates the scheduling of accompanists and of the dance faculty. We are grateful that Judy has agreed to continue this work and delighted that she will do so with under the title of Associate Option Coordinator,” said Professor Mundell.
Professor Lisa Velten Smith joins the team of Associate Option Coordinators.
“Professor Velten Smith’s job description is still in process, however there are plans to bring to bear the same skillsets she’s so successfully applied to Co-Chairing the Lab Review Committee, Directing the Acting/MT Showcase, her work with the DEI Committee on resources for decolonizing syllabi, and her collaboration with Dick Block on liaising with the Student Representatives. Enormous thanks go to Lisa for agreeing to serve,” said Professor Mundell.
Outgoing Option Coordinator
Professor Sartje Pickett has stepped down as Co-Option Coordinator for Design but will continue their remarkable work in the classroom and on stage at the School.
“In collaboration with Professor Shea, Professor Pickett provided remarkable leadership for the Design Option during an exceptionally challenging time in the School of Drama,” said Professor Mundell. “They helped lead the option through multiple inflection points during the last four years, including the pandemic, cultural evolution, a rapidly evolving industry and multiple leadership transitions. Professor Pickett’s empathy, advocacy and resolute commitment to ethical decision-making and equitable practices enabled forward progress on thorny issues even during this time of deep uncertainty. Their courageous, creative leadership empowered faculty, staff and students to recognize opportunity in the wake of disruption, and see beyond the exhaustion, frustration, fear and deep discomfort we’ve endured for the last three years. Design is the largest and in many ways the most complex option with 10 programs, (five graduate and five undergraduate) as well as three semesters of undergraduate curriculum shared with PTM. All of the disciplines require vastly different skillsets and unique tools. Professor Pickett’s leadership was the compass that steered the option toward a shared mission when it was much easier to default to decision making-based driven by the granularity of the needs of individual disciplines. They were also instrumental in the management of many of the complex curricular and scheduling tasks for the Design Option. I will always be grateful for their leadership during Option Coordinator meetings, where they would often refocus discussions toward shared values, reframing from a place of empathy and trust. Professor Pickett is one of the fiercest advocates for students a school full of fierce advocates. Their leadership role models creative risk-taking and commitment to craft and rigorous process. They are a champion for the value of more sustainable practices even while laboring under an unsustainable work load of teaching, advising, administrating and production. Thank you for your exceptional work and dedication as OC, Sartje.”
Professor Lawrence Shea will continue on as sole Option Coordinator for Design.
“Professor Shea’s thoughtful, future-facing approach, commitment to including all voices and his ability to recognize opportunity and drive change will serve the Option well in it’s next chapter,” said Professor Mundell. “Thank you, Lawrence for agreeing to serve as sole Design Option Coordinator and for your continued service to the Option and the School.”
Associate Option Coordinator
Professor Justin Lucero will assume the role of Associate Option Coordinator for the John Wells Directing Program.
“Professor Lucero has already been informally applying his exceptional leadership and organizational skills in support of the option and the work of Option Coordinator, Professor Kim Weild,” said Professor Mundell. “I very much look forward to seeing how Professor Lucero continues to contribute to the future of the Directing Option and the School in this new role. Thank you for stepping up, Justin!”
Professor Kim Weild will remain Option Coordinator for the John Wells Directing Program.
Professor Wendy Arons will remain Option Coordinator for Dramaturgy.
Professor Rob Handel will remain Option Coordinator for Dramatic Writing.
Professor Tina Shackleford will remain Option Coordinator for Production Technology & Management.