Three faculty members from the Reynolds College of Arts and Letters have been appointed as Smart Professors. This title comes with an endowed professorship for the departments of music, theatre and dance, and English. An endowed professorship is the highest honor a university can bestow on a faculty member, a title that will last as long as the university itself. The endowment was generously donated by President Smart and his wife Gail as part of the “Onward, Upward” fundraising campaign.
The professors selected for the Smart endowment are: Dr. Cameron LaBarr, from the music department, Lisa Brescia, from theatre and dance, and Dr. Etta Madden from the English department. Each of these professors was nominated by the heads of their departments for their accomplishments and dedication to teaching. Each serves as an integral part of their department.
“Lisa Brescia is an excellent teacher, an incredible colleague and an outstanding theatre artist. She is an obvious choice as the first Smart Professor in Musical Theatre. She recently completed a long run as Heidi Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway. Previously, she’s starred as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!, Elphaba in Wicked, Cleo in Twyla Tharp’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, Amneris in Aida, and Marion Halcolmbe in The Woman in White. Lisa serves the Department of Theatre and Dance in numerous ways. She coordinates our LA Showcase for the BFA in Acting, serves on a variety of committees and regularly directs for the department production season. Our students have great respect for her teaching and rely on her as an important mentor. Lisa is also an incredible person. Kind, compassionate and professional. She is extraordinary!” —Joe Price, Department Head of Theatre and Dance.
“Dr. Cameron LaBarr is an amazing, musical, energetic, enthusiastic, magnetic professor. His love for choral music and conducting is contagious with both students and audiences. He continues the long, rich tradition of choral singing and teaching at MSU under which he earned his bachelor’s degree with us. He is a role model for both his students and his colleagues. His visibility with the choir programs here, his love for travel and providing study abroad experiences, and his devotion to interpreting music with impact for social justice are wonderful examples for our department and for the university.” —Dr. Julie Combs, Department Head of Music.
“Dr. Madden’s scholarship is exceptional and her reputation in the field of American literary studies, especially her work on women’s writing, make her the perfect choice for the inaugural Smart Professorship in English. Her current work on three American writers who lived and worked in Italy in the 19th century—Emily Bliss Gould, Anne Hampton Brewster, and Caroline Crane Marsh—shows how women used their writing to create global relationships, enact social change, and engage in issues related women’s rights. The Department of English could not be more pleased to have an endowed professorship. It is a testament to the importance of research in the humanities and will have a long-term impact on our students and the university. The research Dr. Madden will undertake in this role will enhance her courses, inspire students, and add to the body of academic work in American literature and women writers.” —Dr. Linda Moser, Department Head of English.