The Department of Theatre has named Dawne Meeks the assistant chair in preparation for her to assume the chair next year.
Adam Hester, chair of the Theatre Department since 1991, said he has tried numerous times to step away from the position for a while, but no one felt ready to take over until now.
“I want to move back into a position where I’ll be serving as a professor,” Hester said. “I’ve got things that I think can be a huge help to the department that right now have to go on the back burner because, as chair, I’ve got other things that take my focus.”
Meeks, an associate professor of theatre, said she greatly appreciated Hester’s practical mentoring last year in preparation for the change.
“I’m so grateful for his leadership and sensitivity,” Meeks said. “I’m so honored and humbled to be asked to move into this position. Frankly, it’s a little daunting, but I’m excited.”
Hester said running a department can be difficult – especially for the theatre department, which has a production side in addition to its academics.
“Both the dean and the provost have been very grateful for this model of transition,” Hester said. “There’s not a lot of training for a chair – it can be a little overwhelming, and you can feel a little lost when you come on.”
Hester said the dean’s office and the entire theatre faculty were in unanimous agreement that Meeks was a good fit for the position.
“She just has the right kind of temperament – the right sense of vision,” Hester said. “Dawne will bring a new vitality – she’s very endearing, and she’s got strengths that I don’t have. She’s going to bring a lot of great things to this office.”
Meeks began working with Hester as a freshman at ACU, and they continued to collaborate as colleagues when she returned as a teacher in 2005.
“Being inspired and encouraged to grow and find my own strengths and gifts – I really appreciate that,” Meeks said. “He trusts us in the classroom, he trusts us in the work we do on stage – he doesn’t micromanage. It’s such a gift to be given that kind of trust and freedom.”
This transitional year is designed to introduce Meeks to the myriad of tasks and responsibilities of the chair’s office and keep her in the administrative loop, Hester said. After the transition, he and Meeks will swap titles.
“Adam will move into assistant chair, which I think is incredibly gracious and I am so grateful for that,” Meeks said. “He’ll be there to support me during that shift.”
After that, Hester will relinquish the position of assistant chair, although he will remain in the department as a professor.
“I plan to stay at ACU for quite a while,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere.”