Pendergraft named Faculty Excellence in Teaching winner for College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences

Stacy Pendergraft
Faculty Excellence award nominee Stacy Pendergraft. Photo by Ben Krain.

Stacy Pendergraft, associate professor of theater arts, has been selected as the 2020 Faculty Excellence in Teaching award winner for the UA Little Rock College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences.

“Stepping into the studio daily and encountering our students has, without a doubt, enlarged me,” Pendergraft said. “I am a more nuanced artist and person for having spent my career teaching students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. And the beauty of academia is that you can take a chance on students. I have trained a wide range of student talent. There is nothing more thrilling than helping the ‘bright lights’ into a professional career or advanced degree program.”

Pendergraft teaches introduction to theatre and dance, acting, directing, voice and movement, theatre and dance: a first experience, as well as many student special topics courses and capstones. As a director, the lab of production further deepens her teaching objectives and includes recent works such as “Eurydice,” “An Octoroon,” “The Learned Ladies,” “The Bacchae of Euripides,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” Her educational practice and artistic aesthetic foster an environment in which creative risk, direct feedback, and personal accountability are critical skills. 

Notably, Pendergraft has trained the only two Arkansas actors ever selected for the American Theatre Wing’s Springboard NYC, an in-depth program for college students that happens parallel to the Tony Awards.

“As a former student and mentee of Stacy Pendergraft, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no one more qualified and deserving of such an award,” said Corrie Green, a UA Little Rock graduate who attended Springboard NYC. “Stacy Pendergraft is one of the most dedicated professors inside and outside of the classroom, one of the most persistent advisors, and the most caring mentors I have ever had the honor of being influenced by. Without her, I would not have graduated. I would not have any success stories. I would not have the confidence to remain in theatre.”

Pendergraft has also taken an active role in teaching and mentoring Arkansas high school students in theatre arts. She has led innovative efforts to recruit high school students to UA Little Rock by offering free theatre workshops, providing free tickets to UA Little Rock’s performances, and more.

“As a public school teacher, many of my students can’t afford theatre tickets, but, thanks to Stacy and her department, many have been allowed the opportunity to see high quality theatrical performances,” said Spencer Sutterfield, drama department chair at Parkview Arts and Sciences Magnet High School. “Stacy has also led professional development workshops for the Little Rock School District theatre teachers, leaving teachers challenged and refreshed. And Stacy has taken the role of liaison/advisor for her university’s concurrent credit program in theatre, ensuring that high school students can receive college credit for the advanced theatre courses we offer at Parkview. For all these reasons, Stacy is a gift to UA Little Rock and our state.”

Pendergraft is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association and earned her M.F.A. degree in acting from Arizona State University and B.A. degree in theatre and elementary education from the University of Tulsa.

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