SMWC theatre professor wins lifetime achievement award
November 30th, 2012 | By SMWC
What is a lifetime of achievement? For Sharon Ammen, Ph.D., professor of theatre at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), it is written in the posters of plays, performances and students plastered all over her office walls.
It is also written on a gleaming new plaque from the National Communication Association (NCA).
“I had no idea I was going to receive this,” Ammen said. “I was completely surprised and deeply honored.” Recognized for her live performance work in an academic setting, Ammen received the Lifetime Award for Artistic Scholarship from the NCA’s theatre, film and multimedia division during a conference in Orlando, Fla., from Nov. 14-18, 2012. She attended the conference with Tyler Hutcheson, technical director in SMWC’s Department of Music and Theatre, and Sherry Bube, a music therapy major from Nashville, Ind.
“I co-presented two sessions with Dr. Ammen at the NCA convention,” Bube said. “I find that both attending and presenting help expand my knowledge-base and professional network. Also, being able to collaborate with a professor such as Dr. Ammen is an advantageous opportunity because of her intellect and creativity, which definitely aid me in my educational pursuits.”
Creativity and intellect – two qualities often used to describe Ammen. “Sharon is a dynamic educator and producer,” said Janet Clark, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs at SMWC. “She has been the backbone for many outstanding theatrical performances at The Woods. She brings a creative outlook and an encouraging attitude to the stage and the classroom.”
Ammen, teaching at The Woods since the late 1990s, has been involved with NCA for more than two decades. She chaired the division when it only encompassed theatre and currently serves as the secretary for the organization’s emeriti and retired members. According to their website, NCA members are scholars, teachers and practitioners “dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication.” With more than 8,000 members and nearly 100 years old, NCA promotes the use of communication to improve life through professions, education, the arts, research and more.
“There is no one I know that is more deserving of this prestigious award than Sharon,” said Hutcheson. “Her list of contributions to the National Communication Association could go on forever. She is an outstanding educator who is passionate about bringing her undergraduate students to the conference helping them gain invaluable skills in acting, improvisation, reader’s theater and overall communication.”
Each year Ammen takes several SMWC students and representatives with her to the NCA conference. Since she has been at The Woods, each time Ammen has submitted a session topic for the conference she has been accepted. Often, as in this year’s case, two of Ammen’s submissions are accepted.
“I think it’s a great thing when they choose reader’s theatre pieces,” Ammen said. “We create the piece before we get there, then rehearse like mad. The group is inter-generational – students from SMWC and other colleges, professors and professionals all participate. It’s important that SMWC students get the experience of working with diverse groups like this.”
Ammen’s lifetime achievement award reflects her expertise as both a theatre professional and an educator. She consistently puts students’ needs first and has kept the flame of live theatre alive.
“Live theatre may not be as mainstream today as it was with the Greeks, but, as a teacher, it’s important to build a foundation with those traditional techniques. I was honored to see how important live theatre is to the NCA.”