Robert Schmidt, professor and interim chairperson of the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin since August 2006, has been appointed the new chairperson of the department, effective June 1.
The former chair of the department, Professor Richard Isackes, resigned as chairperson in 2006 and continues to teach in the department.
Schmidt, who holds the Frank C. Erwin Jr. Centennial Professorship in Drama, has been an administrator and faculty member at the university since 1982. The appointment will run through the end of the 2010-2011 academic year.
"Bob Schmidt brings to his new responsibility as chair an ideal combination of professional and academic experience," said Douglas Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts. "He is universally respected for his clarity of vision, his generous interest in the work of colleagues and students, and his mastery of the complexities of managing one of the largest theater and dance programs in the country in a large research university. He will prove to be a great chairman in a department that has a history of strong leadership."
Schmidt has been the recipient of several honors at the university, including the Grace Hill Milam Centennial Fellowship by the College of Fine Arts and the Jane and Roland Blumberg Fellow in Theatre by the Department of Theatre and Dance.
"This is a great honor and equally great responsibility," said Schmidt. "The department has a long and distinguished history of providing a developmental home for new generations of exceptional artists, performers and scholars. My colleagues on the faculty are an extraordinary collection of teachers, scholars, artists and generous collaborators. I look forward to finding new ways to work with them, Dean Dempster, our staff and our students, to keep Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin at the leading edge of our field."
Schmidt's career as a theater artist has spanned over three decades and has included work as a scenic designer for theater and television in Europe and Asia, as well as at major regional theatres in the United States. He designed the award-winning entry from the United States to the Prague Quadrennial Scenography Exhibition in 2003. He has served as commissioner for scene design for the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology, as associate editor for Theatre Design and Technology Journal, and as the U.S. delegate to the Scenography Commission of the International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects, and Technicians. He is also a board member and executive committee member of the University/Resident Theatre Association.
Schmidt earned his bachelor's degree in theater and drama and his master's degree in scenic design from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.