AU theatre alumni collect 102 signatures to display career success

Theatre Alumni

Letter to the editor

This letter is written and sent on behalf of the undersigned alumni of the Ashland University Theatre Department in response to President Carlos Campo’s quote in the news article regarding the phasing out of twenty academic programs. 

In the article published on July 27, 2020 in the Ashland Times-Gazette, President Campo stated, “The students made this decision more than we did. If students were coming to Ashland in droves for the theater program, it never would have been sunset … So while the board started this action, it was really students who decided by their registrations where they really want to focus and want to study. And that’s what we’re going to stay focused on.” 

The goal of this letter is not to reverse the decision to phase out these programs. We recognize that student enrollment in the program has dwindled. It seems irresponsible, however, that the University fails to recognize the part they played in maintaining the quality and appeal of the program. As prospective students seek out theatre programs, the three questions most often asked include: What faculty and staff are available for student support? What facilities and resources are available for academic and performance studies? What is the alumni success record post-graduation? 

Ashland’s Theatre Department, a once thriving program with five full-time faculty and one full- time staff member as well as support from the Communications/Performing Arts Coordinator, has now been reduced to one full-time faculty member with adjunct support. 

Other than Founders Hall, the oldest building on campus is the Center for the Arts. With performance and classroom spaces that have not been updated in decades, it should be of no surprise students are not coming to Ashland in droves. 

We the alumni feel that the theatre major is being phased out not because of the students, but because the University has missed a plethora of opportunities to leverage the success of its graduates to increase enrollment. Alumni success stories are a critical and key strategy for recruiting prospective students. 

We write this letter in celebration of the success of our alumni and a program that launched numerous careers in the arts, academic, and entertainment industries. The alumni of Ashland University’s Theatre Department have credits and careers spanning from Saturday Night Live to Hamilton, from New York to Los Angeles, and stretching as far as Moscow, London, and everywhere in between. We write this letter in celebration of our alumni and of the Ashland community that supported and nurtured us in our artistic nascence. 

To the Ashland community, theatre faculty and staff we thank you. To the current theatre students, we alumni support your future endeavors and hope that you can help carry the legacy of Ashland University’s Theatre Department forward with pride, perseverance and dignity. 


Edward Carney, Class of 2013, BM in Music Education, Music Director – An American in Paris 

National Tour Nate Sayatovich, Class of 2013, B.S. Theatre Education, Director, Inside Broadway NY.NY Hilary Glick, Class of 2014, BA in Theatre, Event Planner and Freelance Writer. Jensen Glick, Class of 2013, BA in Theatre, MFA in Costume Design, Freelance Costume 

Designer Maddie Beer (Penwell), Class of 2012, BA in Musical Theatre, Director of Education, 

Community Engagement, and Symphony Melissa B Bialko, Class of 2001. BA in Theatre, MFA in Design (OSU) Erin Haggerty-Wallace, Class of 2002, BA in Theatre, MA in Theatre, Managing Director of 

Lees-McRae Summer Theatre, Tour Manager, Cincinnati Opera Charlene Gross, Class of 1997, BA in Theatre, Assistant Professor of Costume Design, Penn 

State School of Theatre Heather Sheldon, Class of 1997. BA in Music and Theatre, MA in I/O Psychology. Wardrobe 

Supervisor, Wig Mistress. Dr. Alex Kugler, Class of 2010, BS in Edu; theatre minor; PhD Geology. Megan Harvey, Class of 2018, BA in Multidisciplinary Studies – Theatre and Business 

Management, Akron Civic Theatre Administrative Assistant and Producer’s Representative Jacob Poiner, Class of 2014 and 2017, PreK-6 Music and Theatre Educator and 7-12 Music and 

Theatre Educator for Lexington School District Whitney Locher, Class of 2002, BA in Theatre, Costume Designer for US National Tour of 

INTO THE WOODS Johanna Regan Milani, Class of 2013, BA in Theatre, MAT in education, Principal Performer on 

the North Pole Express Martin Thoman, Class of 2008, BA in Theatre and Political Science, Resident Carpenter at 

Studio Theatre (Washington DC), Exhibit Worker Smithsonian Folklife Festival Natalyn Baisden, Class of 2016, BA in Theatre, Activities Professional Mary Allison, Class of 2009, BA in Theatre, professional musician and award winning distiller Brandon Wurgess, Class of 2014, BS in Hospitality Management, Theatre Scholarship 

Participant, Weston Playhouse Theatre Marketing Administrator and Dorset Theatre Festival House Manager Seth Morrison, Class of 2018, BA in Theatre, Technical Director for OSU-Mansfield and Stage 

Manager for the Ashland Symphony Orchestra Kathryn Bornhoeft, Class of 2010, BS in Early Childhood Education with a minor in theatre. Martha L. Tidball, Class of 1998, BM in Music Education, Minor in Theatre, Elementary and 

secondary Music Teacher for various Catholic Schools, Assistant Manager at Crocs 

Kimberly Lennox, Class of 2014, BA in Theatre, minor in Marketing, Dayworker on Summer: The Donna Summer Musical on Broadway and Wardrobe Supervisor at Irish Repertory Theatre Amy Hall, Class of 2006, BS in Theatre Education, teacher for Drama Kids, Director for 

Olentangy Hyatt’s middle school Kathryn Mounts, Class of 2014, BA Theater BA Music Greta Rothman, Class of 1990, BA in Theatre, President of Alpha Psi Omega ’89-’90 Aretta (Casebolt) Baumgartner, Class of 1991, BA in Theatre and Communications, MA in 

Communication Arts, President Puppeteers of America and Education Director Center for Puppetry Arts Michael Beyer, Class of 2001, BA in Theatre, MFA in Theatre Lighting Design, Lighting 

Designer/Production Manager/Professor/Director at Hillsdale College and Freelance Lighting Designer in Theatre, Music Festivals, Concerts, and Dance. Marci Rickard, Class of 1993, BA Vocal Performance, Preschool Teacher & Worship Leader, Lauren Rodgers (Yobbagy), Class of 2011, BA in Theatre, Summer Directing Intensive at Yale 

University, SM Apprentice and Directing Apprentice at CATCO t Aubrey Caldwell, Class of 1997, BA in Theatre, MFA in Acting FSU, former adjunct faculty at 

AU, Former theatre faculty at UA, currently PMTM’s Director of Regional and National Talent Development Kimberly Powers, Class of 2001, BA Theatre, MFA Scenic Design, Freelance Set Designer Fatima Imani Smith, Class of 2016, entertainment technician for carnival cruise line assistant 

programming assistant for playhouse square Eryn Reynolds Tramel, Class of 2016, Full Time Resident performer at Shadowbox Live Lynnetta Miller, Class of 2001, BS in Commercial Art, Minor in Theater, Administrative 

Assistant at Carnegie Mellon University and freelance scenic painter. Kelsey Bowens, Class of 2014, BA in Theatre, Props Designer for CO/LAB Theatre Group 

(NYC); Scenic Artist for Chain Theatre (NYC) Jennifer Harvat, Class of 1995, BA in Theatre, MFA in Costume Design from Kent State, 

Assistant Costume Designer Akron Canton Players Guild, Associate Professor of Theatre Mount Union College. Richard C Goodwin, BS Ed Ashland University 1971, MA Theatre Akron University 1974, 

MFA Acting Wayne State University 1978 , Professor Emeritus Theatre, Ashland University Drew Rothhaar, Class of 2012, BA in Theatre Rachel Turos, Class of 2011, Costume shop Supervisor at Cedar Point, Former Costume 

Specialist at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Julie Bontempo, Class of 2015, BS Biology, Theatre Minor. Conservation Education Zoo 

Interpreter, Zookeeper Allison Toth, Class of 2008, BA in Theatre and Music, Professional Opera Performer and 

Clinical Supervisor Rebecca Gorski, Class of 2014, Journalism and Digital Media major | Theater minor, Current 

morning anchor and executive producer at WKOW in Madison, WI Meghan Smith Ragle, ’02, BA Electronic Media Production, commercial content manager and 

YouTube content provider 

Evan Bridenstine, Class of 1982, BA in Theatre and Creative Writing, MFA in Playwriting (UVA) and PhD in Theatre (OSU), Chair of Theatre at Methodist University (Fayetteville, NC) Sarah Saddler, Class of 2011, MA and PhD in Theatre, Currently Assistant Professor of Theatre, 

Baruch College CUNY Mark Maruschak, Class of 2011, Minor in Theatre, BSBA in Marketing, MFA in Lighting 

Design, Interior Lighting Designer in Atlanta, GA, Resident Lighting Designer Highlands Playhouse Shane O’Neill, Class of 2008, BA in Musical Theatre, Professional Actor and Theatre/Voice 

Teacher William Payne, Class of 1982, BA in Theatre, MFA in Directing from Northwestern University, 

Co-Founder of American Blues Theater – Chicago, Professor of Acting & Directing and former Dean of the Schjool of Fine Arts at the University of Minnesota Duluth Matt Bugay, Class of 2008, BA in Theatre and Spanish, Actor and Project Manager Tara Pinson Class of 1998, BA in Theater, Telecommunications Manager Dr. Patrick Bynane, Class of 1993, BA in Theatre, Professional Actor and Professor of Theatre 

and Theatre Program Director at Texas Woman’s University David Wagar ’16; BA General Theatre; Lighting Designer: Flynn Creek Circus; Lighting 

Director: Northwest High School Molly St.cyr-Reid, Class of 2002, BA in Theatre, Vice President & Literary Manager Raconteur 

Theatre Company, Ensemble Member, MadLab Theatre Natasha Cline, Class of 2011, B.A in Theatre, Director at MadLab Sean Smith, 2011, B.A. Theatre, M.F.A. Costume Design, Lead Costumer “Saturday Night Live” Melissa Cooke (née Kraus), MS. CCC-SLP, Class of 2006, BA in Musical Theater and Vocal 

Performance, MS in Speech Language Pathology, specialist one voice and singing health, dysphagia and head and neck cancer rehabilitation Jeff Haffner, Class of 1994, BA in Comprehensive Theatre, MFA in Acting (University of 

Georgia, Class of 1997), Actors’ Equity member, Post Graduate Fellow in Acting (University of Arizona), Company Member (Old Creamery Theatre – Amana, Iowa) Taylor Stepp, Class of 2015, BA in Theatre, patient support specialist Daniel Justin Bilewicz III, Class of 2009, BA interdisciplinary in Theatrical Costume Design, 

Freelance Costume Designer, Ashland University Costume Shop Supervisor, Director of theatre at several high schools and Director of Youth Theatre for summer programming in Lorain Ohio. Steven Bornhoeft, BA Theatre, lighting Designer at Bartha, Dir. Project Operations at Bartha. Bridget Burk-Hale, Class of 2000, Bachelor of Science in Theatre Education with a Music 

minor, Intervention Specialist and Theatre Director at Patriot Preparatory Academy Jake Baechle Fall 2008. BA Communications minor in theatre Megan (Woodward) Kane, Class of 2006, BS in Education emphasis in Theatre, Culture and 

Arts Specialist at the George Washington Carver Museum and Theatre Teacher pre-K through 12 at Daugherty Arts Center Rebecca (Miller) Magnus, Class of 2006, BS Theatre Education, Elementary- High School 

Theatre Teacher Ireland/Chicago IL & Texas, Education Director Children’s Theatre Evan Tyrone Martin, Class of 2005, BA in Theatre, Ensemble in The Black Clown for Lincoln 

Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Headlined 3 Nat’l Tours with a one man Nat King Cole show. 

Jenna Steiner, Class of 2008, BA in interdisciplinary studies focused on costume design, 

Certified Real Estate Appraiser and costume designer for Ashland High School Susan jS B Brown, Emerita Assoc. Professor of Theater, 1991-2006, BA in theatre, MA in 

Theatre, MFA in theatre, costume designer in retirement at MtVArts, Mt. Vernon, Ohio Nichole Olp-Weakland, Class of 2010, BS in Biology, Veterinarian Kirk A Domer, Class of 1995, BA in Theatre, Professor of Scene Design at Michigan State 

University, USA Local 829 Scenic Designer Rachel Parent, Class of 2005, BA in Theatre, MFA in costume Design, Resident Costume 

Designer Nikolas Demers, Class of 2020, BA in Theatre, Stage Manager and Assistant Director at The 

Renaissance Theatre Jon West, Class of 2008, BA in Theatre, MFA in Technical Design & Production (Yale School 

of Drama), Touring Technical Director – Kennedy Center, Master Carpenter – Arden Theatre, Technical Designer – Showman Fabricators Carrie (Balchak) Lombardo, Class of 2008, BA in Theatre, BA in Speech Communications, 

Development Manager at Playhouse Square Theresa Kowalski, BA Theatre Class of 1987 Elizabeth Davis, Graduating Class of 2017, MFA in Costume Design from Indiana University, 

Costume Hop Manager and Makeup Coordinator at California State University, Chico Fabio Polanco, Former Faculty Brian Tarter, Class of 2007, B.A. in Theatre, Professional Actor/vocal coach/acting coach Jake Kinney, Class of 2011, BA Musical Theatre Performance, BA Music-Academic Studies in Composition, Former Adjunct Voice Faculty NYU and National Tour of Finding Neverland Rebecca R. Lustig, Class of 1999, BA in Theatre Arts, MA in Theatre Art and Directing (MU), 

MFA Theatre Management (WSU), Resident Manager Young Artists Program Glimmerglass Festival, President Put-in Bay Arts Council, Vice President Wyoming Educators of Secondary Theatre, and Owner and CEO Crit Hit Gaming Antoinette Kula, Class of 2010, BA in Musical Theatre, Master of Arts Leadership and Cultural 

Management from Colorado State University and Senior Manager of Ticket Sales and Service at Playhouse Square Emily Jeppesen, Class of 2014, BA in Theatre, Assistant House Manager at Friedman Theater 

(Broadway) Kristy Cruz Scott Barkhurst BA in Theatre Class of 1974 Anonymous, Class of 1989 BA Theater, Technical Director City Theater in Biddeford Maine. Coordinator, Center for Excellence in Teaching Learning, University of New England Amanda Dziuba (De Victor) Class of 2005, BA in Theatre with focus in design and technology, 

Master Carpenter/Tech Director at FL Rep Theatre, Stagehands Union Stagehand with IATSE 647, Assistant Tech director Naples Opera Jeff Drushal, Class of ’97, BA in Theatre at AU, MFA in Acting from University of Florida, 

Multiple National Tours playing leading roles. Bob Misenheimer, Class of 2005,BA Theater Design, ME at Surflight Theater, Lighting 

Designer for SBU Summer Theatre, Professional Freelance Designer Amanda Vogeler 

Stuart Duke, Class of 1978, BA in Theatre, Radio/TV, Public Speech. Career lighting designer, 

arts manager and educator Christian Neely, Class of 2014, BA in Theatre, Award Winning Lighting Designer for Wait Until 

Dark for The Chain Theatre, and debuted the role of the Mouse King and Royal Advisor in Nutcracker the Musical Shando Darby Hayden, Class of 1995, BA in Theatre, Box office employee at McCarter Theatre 

in Princeton University, Lawrenceville Summer Opera Company/Company Manager in Lawrenceville, NJ Brittany Hartman, Class of 2012, Hair Wig and Make-Up Designer- Broadway (17 Bway 

credits), Hair and Makeup Supervisor- Hamilton (original production) Michael Cook, Class of 2013, English and Theatre Tara Kodosky, Class of 2012, BA in Theatre, Actor and Voiceover artist (LA & NYC) Beth (Zimmerman) Ealy, ‘04, B.S. Crim. Justice/Soc., Intake Coordinator for the Fair Housing 

Law Center, Washington, PA Austin Arnold, Class of 2013 Rachel Beuoy, Class of 2013, BS in Middle Grades Education Katy Higaki, Class of 2013, BA in Digital Media Production, Operations Manager at The Little 

Gym of Shaker Heights Candice (Kozinski) Caya, Class of 2008, BA in Theater, Walt Disney World Entertainment, 

Orlando Repertory Theater Staff Member, Drama teacher for Howard Academy of the Arts Taylor Murphy Hale, Class of 2011, BA Theatre, MFA Acting University of North Carolina- 

Greensboro, AEA Actor NYC