Jim Fisher Earns National Teaching Award

May 29, 2007

Professor of Theater Jim Fisher is going out with a bang.

The 29-year teaching veteran has decided to leave Wabash to finish his career at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where he will serve as Professor of Theater and Chair of the Theater Department.

But before he starts his new position, Fisher will be honored for his brilliant teaching and scholarly career at Wabash.

Fisher is the 2007 winner of the Betty Jean Jones Award by the American Theater and Drama Society (ATDS), an award that honors excellence in the teaching of American Theater. The Betty Jean Jones Award is the highest honor presented to individual members by the ATDS.

"This award is very humbling," said Fisher. "Previous recipients include scholar/artists whose accomplishments have been a model for me. This award really belongs to Wabash College, too, because in my early days campus leaders like Vic Powell and Eric Dean encouraged my efforts. Various opportunities to develop myself — offered so generously by the college — were essential to me and I am very grateful for them. To have my teaching of American theatre acknowledged is a real encouragement to keep trying to do a better job."

The Jones Award will be presented to Fisher in New Orleans on July 30 at the ATDS annual conference.

Fisher is the author of many books and countless journal articles, book reviews, and theater reviews on the American theater and stage. He is regarded as a foremost scholar of the theater of Tony Kushner, about whom he authored the book, The Theater of Tony Kushner: Living Past Hope. He has also written and published bio-bibliographies on Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, and Spencer Tracy. He has twice received the prestigious McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Research Award from Wabash College. From 1987 through 2007, Fisher served as the national business manager and editor of Playbill for the national theater honorary society, Alpha Psi Omega.

He served as chair of the Theater Department at Wabash from 1980 through 1991 and again from 1995 through 1997. Fisher was named the Indiana Theater Person of the Year for 1996, an award given to the "particular individual who has contributed to the cooperative development of theatre at all levels within the state of Indiana."

Fisher received his bachelor of arts’ degree from Monmouth College in New Jersey and completed his master’s degree in fine arts at UNC-Greensboro. In his new position at UNC-Greensboro, Fisher will oversee a department of 19 teaching faculty, seven adjunct faculty, and approximately 325 undergraduate and graduate students.

"This award comes at a major transition moment in my life, leaving Wabash after 29 years for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro," Fisher said. "It's a bittersweet time and the award adds a little extra sweetness."

The American Theater and Drama Society is an incorporated international organization promoting the study of the theater of the United States theatre and its relationships to diversified social and cultural life. It encourages the study of American plays, actors, designers, critics, audiences, and all others historically or contemporaneously associated with writing, producing, and enjoying U.S. drama, and it encourages the study of relationships among theatrical and dramatic forms across the Western Hemisphere.

Fisher and his wife, Dana, will leave Crawfordsville for Greensboro at the end of June.


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