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Jeffrey Eric Jenkins Named Professor of Theatre and Head of the Department of Theatre at the University of Illinois

The University of Illinois has announced the appointment of Jeffrey Eric Jenkins as Professor of Theatre and Head of the Department of Theatre. Jenkins, currently the Director of Theatre Studies at New York University and Editor of the Best Plays Theater Yearbook, will assume his new duties on August 16, 2012.

“It is an honor to be invited to join the leadership of this outstanding training program,” Jenkins said. “The University of Illinois is, of course, one of the great international research universities, with a library system that towers above others in this country. I have long been aware of the fine education offered to aspiring theatre artists by the Department of Theatre, and I am extremely impressed with the quality of the students I have met. The talented, dedicated professionals who teach these students is a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of superb artists and scholars including the Tony Award-winning director Daniel Sullivan. The University’s Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is one of the most remarkable—and busiest—facilities to be found at any institution of higher education. I look forward to collaborating with KCPA Director Mike Ross and other members of the Board of Producers as we develop and present artistic works—and cutting-edge theatre artists—that have an impact far beyond our campus and lead us deep into the 21st century.”

Dean Robert Graves, of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, said, “Illinois is thrilled that Jeffrey Eric Jenkins has agreed to become the leader of its distinguished theatre program. Jenkins has enjoyed fine careers in both the professional and academic theatre worlds, has directed and published widely, and is a proven and innovative administrator of academic theatre-training programs.”

Jenkins took note of his 14-year career at New York University saying, “My colleagues and students in the Drama Department at the Tisch School of the Arts have helped to prepare me for the coming challenge. I am especially grateful to the four department chairs with whom I have served. Professors Una Chaudhuri, Kevin Kuhlke, Elizabeth Bradley, and Louis Scheeder all taught me many valuable lessons about leadership in the academy. Each of them, in his or her own way, mentored me as a colleague and all of them have become dear friends. In the serendipity that is a career in the theatre, it surprises me that I have worked for so long in one place. As a result, NYU will always feel like home, but I now have an opportunity to help make an artistic and educational home for the current and coming generations of artists and scholars.”

Jenkins also addressed the future of the Best Plays Theater Yearbook series, which currently has its nonprofit home in the NYU Department of English: “Although fallout from the 2008 economic restructuring caused delays in the production and publication of the Best Plays Theater Yearbook series, generous support from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Dorothy Strelsin Foundation, and the Jack and Mimi Amsterdam Foundation have ensured that the series will see at least three more volumes in print—with an electronic version still in planning.” Jenkins will retain oversight of the series as members of the editorial staff prepare material for coming volumes, and members of the editorial board take on additional duties to be announced at a later date.

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