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Department of Theatre and Dance

Leigh Selting Honored for Excellent Teaching

May 3, 2006 -- Leigh Selting, professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, is among eight University of Wyoming faculty members selected to receive the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award.

The other recipients are; Daniel Dale, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy; Gary Fleischman, associate professor in the Department of Accounting; Jayne Jenkins, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health; John Kambutu, assistant professor of education at the UW/Casper College Center; Beth Loffreda, associate professor in the Department of English; Patricia McLean, associate lecturer in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages; and Debra Parkinson, assistant professor in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education.

The awards are made possible by a fund established by Ellbogen to "foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW." Winners are selected from a list nominated by students, and the awards are based entirely on classroom performance and helpfulness to students. A native of Worland, Ellbogen established an endowment for teaching awards in appreciation for his family and state's encouragement of education.

He may be widely recognized as one of the nation's finest acting and directing teachers, but Selting's excellence as a UW professor of theatre and dance is no imitation. Perhaps what stands out most about him is his ability to give students a sense of the professional world beyond college-level theatre.

Selting's former student, Martha Slater, explains, "Leigh rigorously trains students to recognize and overcome the perils and pitfalls of the profession. In a field where subjectivity and favoritism often control opportunity, Leigh stands out as a role model who is committed to seeing each one of his students succeed."

The accomplishments of his students speak for themselves. Under Selting's guidance, UW acting students have won the regional Irene Ryan Acting competition eight times since 1990 -- a national record for an undergraduate training program. Each time, the regional winners have competed at the Kennedy Center against the country's top 15 acting students. In 1999, one of Selting's students won the national Irene Ryan competition.

"This is an enormous feat for any institution, let alone one as remote as the University of Wyoming. Leigh's students regularly are accepted into top-tier M.F.A. programs while others make their way into the regional theatre circuit with an undergraduate degree," says David Lee-Painter, associate professor and chair of the University of Idaho's Department of Theatre and Film.

Chris Lang is a graduate student at the American Repertory Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard and Selting's former student. Lang attests that his UW professor's tireless work on students' behalf benefits him and his peers who now study at the nation's top acting programs or launch successful careers.

"Right from the start Leigh was committed to our futures as theatre professionals. He understood what it took to be a professional, having had a career of his own which he is still successfully engaged in," he says.

Selting earned his bachelor's degree in education, speech/theatre and journalism (1983) from the University of Nebraska, Kearney, and his master's in theatre arts, (1985) from the University of Idaho. He has been on faculty at UW since 1989 and served as head of acting in the Department of Theatre and Dance since 2000.

He recently was nominated as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching/CASE Wyoming Professor of the Year. Criteria include extraordinary dedication to teaching and support from colleagues and students.

"Leigh is a leader in our program in all areas," says Rebecca Hilliker, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. "It is because of all of Leigh's hard work, continuing professional pursuits and dedication to our students that our department has such a fine reputation nationally for actor training."

UW students, faculty and theatre and dance professionals agree: Leigh Selting is no act; he's the real thing.

Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2006

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