Each year the Association for Theatre in Higher Education recognizes an academic professional with one of its highest honors: the Career Achievement Award in Academic Theatre. This year the award goes to HARRY J. ELAM JR., vice provost for undergraduate education at Stanford. He will receive his award in July at a ceremony in Phoenix.
A scholar of social protest theater, performance and popular culture, Elam is praised by colleagues for his scholarship and leadership. Students know him as an advocate and mentor.
“Professor Elam has been a vital artistic mentor and adviser to me during my time at Stanford,” said KEN SAVAGE, ’14. “He has expanded my understanding of theater and inspired me to believe that I am capable of producing meaningful productions that can have an immense impact on the larger landscape of American theater. Without Professor Elam’s constant support, I would not be pursuing a professional career in directing after Stanford.”
“The Department of Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS) applauds the national recognition of our wonderful colleague, Harry Elam,” said TAPS department chair JENNIFER DEVERE BRODY. ”Quietly charismatic and extremely caring, Harry epitomizes the best qualities of a scholar, director, mentor and teacher. From his work as the editor of Theatre Journal, to his directing and his books on [LUIS] VALDEZ, [AMIRI] BARAKA, [AUGUST] WILSON and more, to his extraordinary encouragement of generations of theater enthusiasts, Harry has changed the field not only for the better but also for good.”
Criteria for the career award include acclaim, test of time, service, innovation, mentoring, advocacy and support of multiculturalism and diversity in education.
“Harry Elam is so highly regarded as a scholar, teacher, artist, mentor and administrator. We are thrilled to honor him this year,” said DANI SNYDER-YOUNG, vice president of ATHE awards, “His nomination included a wide range of stunning, heartfelt letters from scholars and artists whose lives and careers he has touched. Their love for him pours out, highlighting his generosity as a mentor and ‘rigorous collegiality’ alongside the way he has opened critical avenues of investigation in African American theater, built a career balancing scholarship and artistry and inspired students in classroom contexts.”
In addition to the two career achievement awards, one in academic theater and the other in professional theater, ATHE bestows eight other awards each year, including recognition for excellence in teaching, leadership and different aspects of writing. Elam won the editing award in 2006. Stanford alumnus DAVID HENRY HWANG, ’79, won the Career Achievement Award in Professional Theatre in 2013.
— BY ROBIN WANDER
— Photos BY LINDA A. CICERO