San Jacinto College theatre department chair and artistic director Dr. Jerry Ivins will be awarded the prestigious Kennedy Center Gold Medallion for Region VI during the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in February.
"I was shocked. I appreciate this award so much," Ivins said. "Educational theatre in Texas is incredibly rich, and I'm so proud to be a part of it."
This is the highest award the festival gives and is considered a great honor in theatre education. Region VI covers Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Each year, the eight regions honor individuals or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to teaching and producing theatre and who have significantly dedicated their time, artistry, and enthusiasm to the development of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
Ivins has taught at San Jac for 25 years. He not only is the artistic director for the College's Central Campus theatre program but has been active with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for over 30 years and has served as the festival's Texas chair and vice chair each for two years. He currently serves as a respondent and member of the regional committee, traveling to watch festival entries across the region and deciding which productions move on to present at the Kennedy Center.
In addition to his work with the festival, Ivins is also heavily involved in the University Interscholastic League one-act play competition. He serves as a judge and adjudicator for University Interscholastic League theatre and one-act play and as a licensed contest manager, running two area, two regional, and the state one-act play contest each year for 4A, 5A, and 6A schools. For the Texas Education Theatre Association, Ivins serves as the director of operations for the state theatre competition.
"My colleague at the University of Houston once said, 'If there is something happening in theatre education in Texas, Ivins either knows about it or is running it,'" Ivins said. "I can't help it — it's my passion."
And Ivins wouldn't have it any other way.
"Sometimes people wonder why they receive emails from me at 3 a.m.," Ivins said. "I work at San Jac during the day and then go home to be with my family. After my girls are asleep, I continue working into the wee hours of the night."
Ivins says his passion stems from his own experience as a theatre student.
Theatre saved my life. I couldn't look anyone in the eye or speak to anyone. I joined theatre to meet a girl, and it ended up being my life's work. It has provided me a safe haven, and if I can do that for someone else, I've done what I needed to do.