ATHE Mourns the Loss of Ron Willis
Monday, March 9, 2015
It is with deep regret that we inform you of the death of University of Kansas Emeritus Professor Ronald A. Willis. Professor Willis, the year 2000 winner of ATHE’s Outstanding Teacher Award, died peacefully at his home on Friday, March 6.
Ron earned his Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Iowa in 1968, and taught at the University of Vermont and Colorado State University before coming to Kansas as Associate Professor of Theatre in 1970. Promoted to full Professor in 1973, he would go on to serve as the Director of the University Theatre from 1976 – 1989 and concurrently for a number of years as the Chair of the Department of Theatre and Film over the course of a career spanning more than three decades in higher education.
Professor Willis was a nationally recognized theatre adjudicator, conducting approximately twenty adjudication workshops throughout the country as well as serving as adjudicator at nearly thirty theatre festivals. His writings on adjudication have appeared in state festival handbooks as well as in Design For Arts in Education and he presented numerous papers on performance adjudication at conventions. His book, “Fragile Magic: A Guidebook for Theatre Respondents” was published in 2012 by Hackett Publishing Company.
Professor Willis also directed more than seventy theatre productions; five were performed in regional festivals of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. He served as both Playwriting Awards Chair and National Committee Chair for KC/ACTF. In addition to the ATHE Outstanding Teacher Award, Ron’s honors include a Gold Medallion for Outstanding Service from KC/ACTF and membership in the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.
ATHE grieves at the passing of a tremendous individual and a leader in the field of theatre in higher education.