Name: Jennifer Burt
The end of yet another academic year brings with it the opportunity to review the strides of individuals across campus. In such a tally of accomplishment, co-chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, professor and playwright Peter Sham stands out as exemplary, with a long list of efforts as able ambassador for Southern Utah University that qualifies his receipt of the 2012 Board of Trustees Award of Excellence.
Sham, who has been teaching at SUU since 2003, has garnered much attention of late for his theatrical hit “Lend Me A Tenor: The Musical,” which premiered at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in 2007. Since, Sham (book and lyrics), along with co-creator Brad Carroll (music), has taken Tenor from the regional stage all the way to London’s West End, where Tenor garnered nightly standing ovations.
Tenor, however, is just one of many accomplishments to Sham’s credit that warrant such a high level recognition.
Explains SUU Provost Brad Cook, “Peter is simply a remarkable and gifted faculty member.”
High commendation from the individual charged with oversight of all academic affairs at a rapidly advancing university. And though concise, Cook’s sentiment is spot on. As a teaching university, SUU’s administrators are, first and foremost, concerned with the student experience, and Sham provides a classroom experience unlike any other. With a keen wit and genuine concern, Sham pushes his students far beyond the bounds of their own imagination. He is both supportive and critical, and his students are eager to rise to any challenge Sham sets forth.
That able blend of talent and heart, along with a good dose of humor, comes through in Tenor, and though Sham’s star has shot up quite forcefully since the 2007 premiere, Sham is still happy at home in Cedar City as SUU professor and talent for the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
In fact, Sham credits much of his success to these very affiliations, though timing and talent are certainly responsible for the lion’s share of his good fortune.
Says Sham, “There's something special about the artistic home SUU provides that allows scholars like my colleagues and I in the College of Performing & Visual Arts to, not only dream our dreams, but accomplish them.”
True to the craft, Sham’s thoughts read like a well-scripted acceptance speech and are testament to the balance of heart and humor he brings to life and into his classroom:
“I am blessed beyond measure and, perhaps, more than I deserve. And so first and foremost, I must thank the Lord for watching over the little fat kid from Buffalo, NY. I also would be remiss if I didn't express my heartfelt thanks to colleagues and friends, President Michael T. Benson, Provost Brad Cook, Assistant Provost Bill Byrnes, Chair of Theatre Arts & Dance, Kay Andersen, USF founder, Fred Adams, Chuck Metten and above all, to Dean Shauna Mendini for her mentoring, support and ever-watchful encouragement. Lastly, but certainly not least, I cannot acknowledge any blessing or accomplishment without expressing my deepest love and gratitude to the ones in my life who are the real reasons behind any success I may have, my most talented and extraordinary wife, Kirsten (an adjunct professor in theatre arts and dance), and children, Olivia and Orlando. They keep the balance, and that allows me to reach for the stars.”
With that, there is little else to say besides congratulations to the University’s very best.
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