Andrew Belser named 2017-18 Penn State Laureate

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Andrew Belser, professor of movement, voice, and acting and director of the Arts & Design Research Incubator (ADRI) in the College of Arts and Architecture, has been named Penn State Laureate for the 2017-18 academic year. As laureate, he will tour the award-winning "FaceAge" exhibition — a multimedia video installation created from cross-generational conversations — throughout Pennsylvania, including community engagement, research and curricular components intended to facilitate intergenerational connections.

An annual faculty honor established in 2008, the Penn State Laureate is a full-time faculty member in the arts or humanities who is assigned half time for one academic year to bring greater visibility to the arts, humanities and the University, as well as his or her own work. As such, the laureate is a highly visible representative of the University, appearing at events and speaking engagements throughout the Commonwealth. Belser will succeed 2016-17 Penn State Laureate Rebecca Strzelec, professor of visual arts at Penn State Altoona. 

“As a laureate endeavor, 'FaceAge' proposes intergenerational connection as a binding force for communities divided by income, class and education, among other issues,” said Belser. “Because Pennsylvania demographics show growth in our aging population, a focus on cross-generational engagement is both timely and has potential to spawn meaningful interaction between Penn State and various communities.”

Belser is producer and director of "FaceAge," whose partners include — in addition to the ADRI — the Center for Healthy Aging in the College of Health and Human Development and the Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence in the College of Nursing. According to Belser, the partners envision the "FaceAge" tour as a chance to demonstrate how compelling outcomes emerge from dynamic cross-disciplinary collaborations. “This Penn State Laureate tour is ideally timed to play a significant role in launching 'FaceAge' toward national and international prominence, further broadcasting Penn State’s leadership as a progressive innovator in approaches to creative and research activity,” he said.

A Penn State faculty member since 2013, Belser previously served as chair and professor of theater at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, from 2011 to 2013, and head of theater at Juniata College from 1997 to 2011. He was the founding artistic director of The Gravity Project, a professional theater company, international performance research center, and new work incubator. His teaching and professional directing career has centered on movement forms, voice/breath work, interdisciplinary theater approaches, solo work, and, most recently, on translating neuroscience for performers. His book, "The Performer’s Field Guide to Applied Neuroscience," will be published by Routledge in 2018.

Belser has directed more than 75 theater productions and maintains an active schedule of tutorials, master classes and workshops guiding professional actors toward deeper work through an innovative synthesis of movement, breath and voice work, along with attention to seeing, spatial perception and aligning performance with situated cognition. He is a Master Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework and is also a certified teacher of Open Source Forms (Skinner Releasing heritage) and a certified teacher of Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement. 

According to Andrew Schulz, associate dean for research in the College of Arts and Architecture, Belser will be an “outstanding ambassador” for Penn State. “He is an outstanding communicator, both in front of large audiences and one-on-one, and will effectively carry out the laureate mission ‘to bring greater visibility to the arts, the humanities, the honoree’s work, and the University,'” Schulz said.

Penn State President Eric Barron selected Belser for the honor at the recommendation of the laureate review committee. The committee was chaired by Blannie Bowen, vice provost for Academic Affairs, and included Barbara Korner, dean of the College of Arts and Architecture; Susan Welch, dean of the College of the Liberal Arts; David Christiansen, associate vice president and senior associate dean for academic programs in the Office of the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses; Carol Reardon, 2015-16 Penn State Laureate and George Winfree Professor of American History; Bonj Szczygiel, associate professor of landscape architecture and women’s studies; and Ryan McCombie, a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees.

For more information on "FaceAge," visit faceage.org. For more information on the Penn State Laureate program, visit vpaa.psu.edu/penn-state-laureate.

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Last Updated April 06, 2017