Rich ’95 was profoundly impacted by the Graceland theatre program during his undergraduate study, and that nurtured conviction became the seed for his success. He was selected as the 2015 Washington Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
“Theatre truly has the power to impact lives and change them for the better through compassion and empathy, and that is the belief I take into the studio each day – and I hope my students share that belief,” Rich said during his award acceptance in November.
The U.S. Professors of the Year program salutes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country – those who excel as teachers and influence the lives and careers of their students. It is recognized as one of the most prestigious national awards honoring undergraduate teaching. Professors are chosen for the Carnegie award based on the criteria that they show extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching.
Brown received his bachelor’s degree from Graceland and his master’s degree from Central Missouri State University. He completed his doctorate in theatre from the University of Oregon in 2003. Brown’s research and curricular focus is on devising or collaboratively creating new work that celebrates cultural differences.
Recalling his experience at Graceland and his complete immersion in the theatre department, Brown remarked, “My freshman year at Graceland, Gary Heisserer directed Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He took a huge risk and cast me as Demitrius, playing opposite of senior Tracy Salter’s Helena. Tracy is a powerhouse of an actor. After each three-hour rehearsal with Gary, Tracy and the other seniors who played the four lovers would keep me after for “extra” rehearsal time to bring me closer to their skill level. I’m delighted to return to Graceland this spring to teach alongside these two mentors and good friends.”
Brown will be returning to Graceland University’s Lamoni campus this spring as a visiting artist. “He is coming to direct a ‘devised’ piece of theatre where he will work with the students to create their own script for performance,” explained Gary Heisserer, theatre professor. “I am thrilled that Rich has agreed to return to Graceland and work with our students. Rich has gained an international reputation among theatre artists, and we are privileged to have him back. Rich is a person with an extraordinarily creative mind and an intense work ethic, and he is also one of the nicest people you could ever meet.”