Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for Encouragement of Teachers (1998)

1997-1998 Commencement Ceremony Excerpt

I am most pleased to announce that the winner of the Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for 1998 is Associate professor of theatre, Ms Elane Denny.

Ms. Denny received her bachelor’s degree from Western Maryland College and her master’s degree from Indiana University in 1984. Before coming to Ohio Wesleyan in 1992, Ms. Denny coordinated the acting program and directed studio and main stage productions at the University of Toledo. Prior to that, she taught acting at Auburn University, and under a University grant while at Auburn, she worked with the Royal National Theatre in London. During her relatively brief time at Ohio Wesleyan, Ms. Denny has been not just a dynamic teacher with a large following of dedicated students, but also a productive artist, as a performer, as a director, as a choreographer, and as a costume designer. Perhaps most notably, I received last September a letter from the State of Ohio thanking Ms. Denny and her Theatre Department students for their help in the production of the interactive video, “Fairness in the Workplace.” That video was then recommended by the State of Ohio to the “Presidents Initiative on Race” as a model of a homegrown, effective tool in combating racial and gender discrimination in government agencies.

Professor Denny is, according to her students, and again in their words: “An excellent and amazing teacher;” “a master of her craft;” “a knowledgeable and talented professor;” “full of life;” “really easy to approach;” “an incredible, creative teacher;” “a truly remarkable mentor;” “a wonderful and talented woman.” At greater length, one student commented: “She teaches more than acting; she teaches confidence, responsibility, and respect.” Said another: “She provides an environment of growth.” Yet other comments include these: “Conscious of student needs and individual capabilities, professor Denny helped me to not only expand my knowledge of directing, but also of myself.” And, “This course revealed many things about myself that I had no idea were inside my mind and body,” Another  student  concluded: “I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to have professor Denny as my instructor.” Finally, and perhaps most consistent with the mission of a quality liberal arts college, one student wrote: “In order to transform a performer, professor Denny transforms the person.”

Little more needs to be said. Elane, congratulations!

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