Source: Peter Dorhout, 785-532-6900, dorhout@k-state.edu

Friday, June 22, 2012

A new act: School of Music, Theatre and Dance aligns university's performing arts programs

Manhattan -- Kansas State University's performing arts programs are now part of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

The Kansas Board of Regents supported the university's proposal to elevate the programs to school status after nearly a year of discussion and planning with faculty, students and administrative personnel in two departments and following a realignment of programs earlier this spring.

"We are very excited for the more than 55 faculty and support personnel and 500 student majors who will become part of this new school," said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, which oversees the school. "Raising the profile of these programs fits the K-State 2025 strategic plan to promote academics, creative endeavor and scholarship."

Following an internal search, Gary Mortenson, professor of music, was recently named director of music, theatre and dance following the realignment. He will serve as the inaugural director of the school.

"Gary has built a fantastic reputation as a leader over the last five years as head of the department of music," Dorhout said. "He worked tirelessly with our interim dean, Joe Aistrup, and Charlie Griffin, the former head of the department of communication studies, theatre and dance, to build a consensus around how we should move forward. The real credit for this success goes to Gary, Joe and Charlie."

The school isn't just for K-State students earning majors or minors in music, theatre and dance. More than 4,000 students each year, from across all colleges at the university, participate in music, theatre and dance offerings designed to keep them connected to their creative passions.

"K-State fulfills its land-grant mission by making arts education certification and the performing arts available to the entire student body through service organizations and performing groups," Dorhout said.

These groups include the K-State Marching Band, Purple Masque Theatre, K-State Singers, Tap Dance Ensemble, Latin Jazz Ensemble, In-a-Chord Singers, Ebony Theatre, men's and women's choirs, African Dance Ensemble, K-State Orchestra, bands, choirs and jazz ensembles. These and others enable K-Staters to gather around common interests in the production of more than 100 public performances each academic year.

"The newly formed School of Music, Theatre and Dance will continue to be a gathering place for almost 20 percent of the K-State student body as it provides high-quality creative outlets to benefit the state of Kansas in the years ahead," Dorhout said.