Theater professor Karen Libman, in the School of Communications at Grand Valley State University, was selected as a Distinguished Professor of the Year by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.
This is the council's fourth year of recognizing three distinguished professors from 15 public universities. The award recognizes outstanding faculty support of undergraduate instruction in support of the central mission of all universities in the council.
As a recipient of this year's award, Libman will be honored at a luncheon in Lansing on May 13. She is noted for making the study of theatre arts relevant to a liberal education and for constantly exploring new ways of using the discipline to broaden the horizons of her students in the areas of aesthetics, multicultural awareness, and social justice.
"It is wonderful that Professor Libman's extraordinary accomplishments are being recognized by Michigan's academic officers, just as her work has been acknowledged by so many students and colleagues at Grand Valley and throughout her discipline," said Grand Valley Provost Gayle Davis. "Congratulations to her as an exemplary representative of this university's talented faculty."
Libman received the 2007 Barbara Jordan Award at Grand Valley for her work with women and gender studies. Working with colleagues, she developed a touring theatre program, Bard to Go, to introduce Shakespeare into the secondary schools. To promote cultural and educational dialogue with international audiences, the program expanded to include performances at schools in Jamaica and China. For her innovative work with Bard to Go, Libman received national recognition from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education in 2008.
"I strive for exemplary learning experiences that ask students to discover new things, to risk through creation and collaboration, and to assume leadership roles in the classroom and onstage," said Libman. "This prepares students for both a life in the theatre and in career areas outside of theatre. Theatre is about problem solving - my job is to create problems that students actively engage in solving, helping them to develop skills that translate to the world beyond the university."
Her directing work has received a meritorious achievement award from the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival, and has been seen locally at Heritage Theatre (Special Grand Award winner for ensemble in Heritage Theatre's "Metamorphoses"), Grand Rapids Civic Theatre ("Piano Lesson", "Of Mice and Men"), and The Grand Rapids Jewish Theatre. At Grand Valley she has directed frequently for the Shakespeare Festival, and university productions including "Big Love", "Mother Courage and Children" and the award-winning "Angels in America, Part 1."
"This is a well-deserved recognition of Karen's dedication to students, teaching, and our academic community," said Anthony Thompson, director of the School of Communications.