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University of Central Missouri
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Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
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Mollenkamp Named Meridith Harmon Sauer Distinguished Professor

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (May 9, 2013) – Becoming only the second  person chosen for this prestigious honor since its establishment in 2010, University of Central Missouri  faculty member Julie Mollenkamp, Ph.D., has been named Meridith Harmon Sauer Distinguished Professor for Theatre and Dance for 2013-2016.

Mollenkamp’s selection for the Harmon Sauer Distinguished Professorship was announced by Gersham Nelson, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The professorship is awarded every three years to an outstanding candidate who is selected from applicants specializing in theatre and dance. To be considered, these individuals must show evidence of instructional excellence; have a strong record of productive research, creativity, and scholarly achievement appropriate to the discipline of theatre; show evidence of exemplary academic and professional achievement at a regional or national level; and demonstrate considerable promise for and commitment to advancing the mission and goals of theatre at UCM.

Julie Rae Mollenkamp
Julie Rae Mollenkamp

Nelson said Mollenkamp is not only deserving of the award, but he is “confident that she will continue to inspire students and colleagues alike as she advances excellence in the Department of Theatre and Dance.” He also expressed his appreciation for Warrensburg residents, Lynn and Jackie Harmon, whose generous gift to the university in honor of their daughter, Meridith Harmon Sauer, made the professorship and a guest artist series possible in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

Mollenkamp, who has garnered a number of theatre and teaching awards, has taught at UCM since 2001. She came to the university after serving on the faculty at Central Michigan University and the University of Minnesota.

She said she is humbled and honored to receive the professorship, adding, “To be so generously rewarded for doing what I love is astonishing.”

While serving in the distinguished professorship, Mollencamp plans to continue her extensive engagement with her discipline, teaching and mentoring students, facilitating students’ participation in the Kansas City Fringe Festival, and in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. She plans to direct “A Thai Tale” by Nikki Harmon, which was a world-premiere Theatre for Young Audiences Play competition winner in September 2012. The well-known UCM faculty member will also direct “Kindertransport” by Dianne Samuels in February 2014. This is the story of a child who, as part of the Refugee Children’s Movement, was removed from her home in Germany and sent to live in the United Kingdom. In collaboration for UCM faculty member Wendy Geiger and her students, the production will be a multi-media event that reflects the repercussions of war on the children who survive it.

In addition to directing, Mollenkamp will continue to instill an appreciation for theatre among her many students at UCM.

“Teaching theatre is an avocation for me because it helps our students develop in profound ways. As theatre reflects the society in which it is created, it teaches us the discourse, the passion and the importance of our humanity,” Mollenkamp said. “We learn to listen, to empathize, to dialogue, to critically think and to collaborate in ways that help us become production citizens and fulfilled people. It is in the theatre where we can share a communal experience, wrestling with what unites us and divides us as inhabitants of this ever-changing world.”

Mollenkamp also praised the Harmons for making the professorship possible. She noted, “I thank the Harmon family, and Meridith especially, for encouraging the next generation of theatre scholars and artists by providing such generous gifts to the Department of Theatre and Dance at UCM. It has inspired me to work even harder to serve our students.”

Among the many highlights of her career, Mollenkamp performed her own biographical work, “In Conclusive Woman,” as an off-Broadway production at the Ryan Repertory Theatre in New York in 2009. She took three UCM students with her to help design and direct the production.

Mollenkamp’s many awards and honors include Outstanding Artistic Collaboration from KCACTF, 2013; Achievement in Directing, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region V, 2012; Best Practice in Sustainable Theatre, KCACTF Region V, 2012; “In Conclusive Woman,” Rutgers 30-Year Feminist Archive Project, Fall 2009; Featured Artist, “KC Stage,” November Issue, 2007; Vagina Warriors for Leadership in Ending Violence Toward Women, UCM, Spring 2007; Road Warriors for Diligence and Excellence in Production Response, KCACTF Region V, 2007; Excellence in Teaching Award, UCM College of Arts and Sciences, Spring 2006; Faculty Achievement Award,  UCM College of Arts and Sciences, Spring 2005; Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region V, 2005; St. Louis, Mo., Invited Production: “In the Yose: Tales from Japan”; Mask and Hammer Acting Award, Central Michigan University, 1994; Joey Ford Award for Best Director, Bowling Green State University, 1992 and 1993; and Region V directing nominee for KCACTF National Teaching Artist Grant, Spring 2008.