Kathy Privatt Appointed to Lawrence University Endowed Professorship

APPLETON, WIS. — Kathy Privatt, associate professor of theatre arts at Lawrence University, has been named the college’s James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama. Appointments to endowed professorships recognize academic distinction through teaching excellence and/or scholarly achievement.


A member of the Lawrence theatre department since 1999, Privatt has directed nine main stage productions, including 2005’s “Language of Angels,” which was chosen as a “showcase production” for the regional competition of the American College Theater Festival in Normal, Ill. Sixteen student actors under Privatt’s direction have qualified for the ACTF’s Irene Ryan Irene Acting Scholarship Competition.

She has served as a guest director for Appleton’s Attic Theatre and worked with the Memorial Presbyterian Church on a series of “reader’s theatre” productions. Privatt also has been involved as an actor for several years with a state-wide crisis intervention training program for law enforcement officers. The program is a joint venture of the Appleton Police Department and the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

In announcing the appointment, Lawrence President Jill Beck commented on Privatt’s great devotion to the performing arts and her success in using theatre to help students develop the qualities of liberally educated persons.

“Professor Privatt’s passion for theatre has energized a similar passion in her students,” said Beck. “She stands as an inspirational model for all who know her.”

Privatt’s scholarship includes the art theatre movement and corporate funding on Broadway. Her essay “‘Modern Medicis:’ Disney On Broadway” was included in the 2007 book “Angels in the American Theatre.”

Her current research focuses on the Alexander Technique, an educational model designed to improve everyday use of the body in movement. Privatt is pursuing teacher certification in the technique with plans to develop courses in it for Lawrence actors, musicians, athletes, and others interested in physical dysfunction.

She earned her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in theatre and speech at Central Missouri State University and her Ph.D. in theatre from the University of Nebraska.

The Barber Professorship was established in 1985 by Ethel Barber, a 1934 graduate of Milwaukee-Downer College, and recognizes her lifelong interest in and support of the performing arts and higher education.

She was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in the department of interpretation from Northwestern University’s School of Speech and enjoyed a successful career as a director of radio and theatre productions and as a lecturer.

Barber served as a member of the Lawrence University Board of Trustees from 1968 to 1988 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by Lawrence in 1985.