By Mike Greife, May 1, 2016
WARRENSBURG, MO – John Wilson, professor of theatre and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Central Missouri, has been named the Meridith Harmon Sauer Distinguished Professor for Theatre and Dance. Gersham Nelson, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, recently announced the appointment.
The professorship is awarded every three years to a candidate selected from a pool of applicants from the faculty of the Department of Theatre and Dance. Selection is made based upon the criteria of instructional excellence; a record of productive academic research, creativity, and scholarly achievement appropriate to the discipline of theatre; evidence of academic and professional achievement at a regional or national level; and demonstration of commitment to advancing the mission and goals of theatre at UCM.
"It is truly an honor to represent UCM Theatre and Dance at this university and across the Midwest,” Wilson said. “This recognition is shared amongst my peers and my students, who all are responsible for helping this department achieve great success. And with the adage that behind most every person receiving recognition there is a loving and dedicated spouse, I have to give all deference to my beautiful, talented and unselfishly supportive wife, Jill. Without her, none of this really matters."
Wilson joined the UCM faculty in 2000 after teaching at Colorado Christian University from 1997 to 1999 and the Denver Center Academy in 1998. He received an MFA in Performance in1993 from the National Theatre Conservatory and a BFA from Arizona State University in 1990.
Wilson is completing his first year as chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. His recent book, The Actor As Fire And Cloud recently was released by Bold Vision Books. He will speak about his book this summer at the Athens Institute for Education and Research, Athens, Greece. He also is the current spokesperson for Communication Federal Credit Union, Oklahoma City, Okla., and is a fight choreographer in Kansas City, having most recently done the fight direction for Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s world premiere of Roof of the World.
Wilson serves the Department of Theater and Dance as the performance specialist, teaching most of the acting curriculum and directing in the main stage program. He has directed 35 productions at UCM and will be the company manager/stage director for Central Missouri Repertory's 2016 summer touring production of Once In The Time Of The Rainbow Crow.
As the coach for students participating in Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Wilson has coached numerous students who have advanced to the semi-final and final rounds in regional competition. UCM Theatre and Dance students have twice won the Irene Ryan Region V Acting Scholarship Award and represented their seven-state region at the national festival in Washington, D.C. Both times, each student won the Mark Twain Comic Acting Award, and just this past April, UCM senior Nellie Maple received the national Irene Ryan Acting Award.
Wilson is the third member of the UCM theatre and dance faculty to be named to the professorship. Richard Herman, professor of theatre, was the first to receive the honor in 2010, and Julie Rae Mollenkamp, professor of theatre, was named to the professorship in 2013.
The Meridith Harmon Sauer Endowed Distinguished Professorship is made possible through a gift to the UCM Alumni Foundation by Warrensburg residents Lynn and Jackie Harmon in honor of their daughter, Meridith Harmon Sauer. Sauer is a UCM alumnus and former instructor in speech and theatre at Warrensburg High School. She currently is executive director of the Warrensburg R-VI School District Foundation.