WCU trustees approve name change to School of Stage and Screen

Western Carolina University’s academic programs in motion picture and television production, musical theatre, theatre arts and dance officially have been “schooled.” That’s because what had been an academic department since its inception in 2007 is elevated to the School of Stage and Screen, thanks to action taken by the WCU board of trustees at its quarterly meeting Friday, June 4.

With the unanimous approval of the change by the board, the newly named school takes its place alongside the School of Music and the School of Art and Design as units of the College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Charles Worley, vice chair of the board, recommended the name change “in recognition of a diverse department that has come together and that is doing a great job.”

When the new College of Fine and Performing Arts was created, programs in stage and screen were drawn from various departments within the College of Arts and Sciences. The newly formed department needed time to integrate programs in film and television, theater and musical theater, said Robert Kehrberg, founding dean of the college.

Kyle Carter, who was WCU’s provost at the time, challenged the department’s faculty to increase academic quality, grow its enrollment and enhance its visibility in the region through cultural arts programming.

Enrollment in the department’s programs by degree-seeking students has risen by 26 percent, its theatrical and dance productions attract audiences from across Western North Carolina, and its motion picture students regularly win major film competitions.

“We are especially proud that 30 percent of stage and screen students are designated as honors students,” Kehrberg said after the trustees’ action. “Ours is one of the few programs nationwide that actively integrates motion picture and television with theater and dance.”