WCU Throws Celebration in Honor of Former Instructor, Josefina Niggli

On Thursday, Jan. 28, students and faculty at Western Carolina University staged a multimedia presentation in the Niggli Theatre on the WCU campus honoring the late Josefina Niggli, a former instructor at the university.

The “Niggli Celebration Premiere” included a performance highlighting Niggli’s career and professional life as well as a slideshow presented by honors students. Displays were shown from WCU’s Hunter Library and Office of International Programs and Services, and information was given about upcoming Niggli-related events. The event was free and was open to the public.

Niggli proved influential in the lives of many of her students, which made clear her commitment to WCU. She was an established novelist, poet, playwright and screenwriter when she arrived at WCU in 1956 to teach journalism and drama. Now WCU is in the midst of a yearlong series of campus-wide events recognizing Niggli’s contributions as a teacher, writer, actress and scholar.

Steve Carlisle, associate dean of the Honors College and a former Niggli student, directed the performance of the Jan. 28 event.

“We will attempt to create a show that Miss Niggli would be proud of and one fitting of the respect and love that all of her former students and admirers have for her,” Carlisle said.

“The goal of the premier is to help bring more awareness to the Niggli celebration that will kick into full swing in January,” said Glenda Hensley, coordinator of first-year experiences with the Office for Undergraduate Studies. “Although many projects and course engagements are already under way, spring will bring significant elements to fruition.”

Other upcoming events related to the Niggli celebration included an exhibit by Hunter Library’s Special Collections that started on Jan. 15 and will last through Dec. 11. On March 10, a film screening of “Sombrero,” with screenplay by Niggli and based on a book of her short stories; and a gender conference at WCU, sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program and featuring author and Niggli scholar Elizabeth Coonrod Martínez as keynote speaker. On April 1-May 8, a Niggli portrait exhibit will be shown at the Fine Art Museum.
Starting July 8-10, former Niggli students will reunite and put on a performance event.