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Theatre Professor Andrew Belser Named 2003 PA Professor of the Year

(Posted November 17, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education have named Andrew Belser, associate professor of theatre at Juniata College, as Professor of the Year in the state of Pennsylvania for 2003.

Belser was selected for the honor from more than 100 professors nominated from Pennsylvania. His award, received at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Nov. 14, marks the second such honor for a Juniata professor in the past four years. In 2000, David Hsiung, Charles A. Dana Professor of History at Juniata, was named Professor of the Year.

?I cannot imagine a more satisfying life than sharing my passion for a creative life with students,? says Belser, who has been a Juniata faculty member since 1997. ?I feel both thrilled and surprised to be honored with an award for doing this work that I love. I feel fortunate to teach in an environment at Juniata where the work of teaching students is treasured and nourished in real ways.?

Belser has worked extensively as a professional director both before and during his academic career. He has directed more than 30 theatre productions at professional and university venues, including ?The Member of the Wedding,? ?The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks,? ?A Midsummer Night?s Dream,? ?The Bald Soprano,? ?Anything Goes,? and ?He Who Gets Slapped.?

Before coming to the college, he worked as an instructor and adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech from 1996 to 1997. He earned a master?s degree in theatre from Villanova University in 1985 and a master?s degree in directing from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1995. He earned a bachelor?s degree in communication arts and secondary education from Grove City College in 1982. He has extensively studied the dance form contact improvisation and has taken training in clowning and other theatrical arts.

?I?m very intense with students and I?m not there only to give them a fun, nifty experience,? Belser says. ?My students are human beings doing theatre, and if they are trained well they are capable of extraordinary things.?

?Andrew Belser has built a first-rate theatre program during his tenure at Juniata and the enthusiasm for his productions both from students and from our surrounding community make it plain that theatre is a vital part of Juniata's liberal arts education,? says Thomas R. Kepple, Juniata College president. ?His passion for teaching and for staging thoughtful, provocative and energizing theatre productions is a strength for our college.?

Belser teaches introductory theatre courses and offers popular courses on acting, directing, stagecraft and forms of drama. He also teaches special courses on movement and clowning.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) established the Professors of the Year program in 1981 and works in cooperation with the Carnegie Foundation and various higher education associations in its administration. This year, there are winners in 43 states and the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. CASE assembled two preliminary panels of judges to select finalists. The Carnegie Foundation then convened the third and final panel, which selected the four national winners and state winners. Belser was selected from among the more than 400 faculty members nominated by colleges and universities throughout the country.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was founded in 1905 by Andrew Carnegie, ?to do all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignity the profession of teaching.? The Foundation is the only advanced study center for teachers in the world and the third-oldest foundation in the nation. Its nonprofit research activities are produced by a small group of distinguished scholars.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the largest international association of educational institutions, with nearly 3,200 colleges, universities, and independent elementary and secondary schools in nearly 50 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Representing these institutions are more than 21,000 professionals in the disciplines of alumni relations, communications, and fund raising. Additional affiliates include educationally related nonprofit organizations and commercial firms.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.