The Austin Chronicle


By Robert Faires, May 18, 2001, Arts

Academic Honors

In honor of this week's commencement ceremonies at UT, here's a roundup of recent honors for our friends in the groves of academe:

° Oscar Brockett, professor of theatre history and criticism at UT, author of the landmark textbooks History of the Theatre and The Essential Theatre, and one of the leading theatre historians in the world, now has a theatre -- not a theatre that he runs, mind you, but a theatre bearing his name. Last month, the Department of Theatre & Dance officially renamed the Theatre Room on the ground floor of the Winship Drama Building the Oscar G. Brockett Theatre.

° The late David Mark Cohen, playwright and former head of the playwriting program in the Department of Theatre & Dance, now has his own festival. Last week, at the close of the department-sponsored New Works Festival that debuted this year and is slated to be a regular event, chair Richard Isackes announced the event would henceforth be known as the David Mark Cohen New Works Festival.

° Marcia Gay Harden, alumna of the UT Department of Theatre & Dance, did the department proud when she took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress this year for her performance in Pollock (and when she made a point of thanking UT professor Lee Abraham in post-ceremony interviews). This week, the Oscar winner is coming back to her old school to address graduating seniors at the College of Fine Arts commencement ceremonies.

° Kent Kennan, professor emeritus of composition in the UT School of Music, composer of numerous works for orchestra, chamber groups, piano, voice, and chorus, and author of the widely used textbooks Counterpoint and The Technique of Orchestration, will receive the E. William Doty Award, the highest honor bestowed by the UT College of Fine Arts, during commencement ceremonies on May 19. The 87-year-old is being honored for his four decades in the classroom, his creative work, his philanthropy, and, as College of Fine Arts Dean Robert Freeman put it, his "enormous lifetime contributions to the School of Music, the University of Texas at Austin, and to music in America."

° Kevin Putz, assistant professor of composition in the UT School of Music and composer of works for, among others, the National Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, and California Symphony, has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Prix de Rome. The latter prize, given annually by the American Academy in Rome, provides living and working accommodations in the city, plus a $20,000 stipend. It so happens that Kent Kennan received the Prix de Rome in 1936.

° Susan Tsu, costume design professor of in the UT Department of Theatre & Dance, may be changing the look of commencement. She has designed a new custom-dyed, burnt-orange silk crepe robe for doctoral graduates to wear in place of the old black robe with three orange velvet bars on the sleeve. UT President Larry Faulkner will be the only person sporting the new robe at this year's commencement, but if he receives enough positive feedback, the robes may become standard garb in the future.

Other Honors

Not academia, but an honor we like to note anyway is the Funniest Person in Austin, and this year that person is Rich Gabe. Belated congratulations to Gabe who won the title on May 1 with a, by all accounts, hilarious set involving a pillow and a tape recorder. Congrats also to second-place winner Chris Fairbanks and third-place winner Matt Bearden.

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