Nagles establish Endowed Chair in Musical Theatre

January 19, 2015

Paige L. and Arthur J. Nagle, a 2003 honorary graduate and 1961 graduate in Arts and Letters respectively, have created a $2 million endowment to establish the Nagle Family Endowed Chair in Musical Theatre. Cary Libkin, longtime head of Penn State’s musical theatre program, will be the first to hold this position.

The purpose of the chair is to enhance the musical theatre program by providing funding for a distinguished faculty member to continue scholarly excellence through contributions to instruction, research and public service.

“We are thrilled to continue to support the musical theatre program by creating this endowed chair and delighted to learn that Cary Libkin will be the inaugural holder,” said Art Nagle. “One of the hallmarks of the program is the strength of its faculty — they are extremely talented, excellent teachers, and truly committed to preparing their students for the professional world. We hope this chair will help Penn State continue to recruit and retain the best faculty, so the musical theatre program can continue to produce amazing students who not only have the talent, but also the academic foundation to succeed in such a competitive industry.”

The Nagles are longtime volunteer leaders and benefactors of the University. They have supported a broad range of programs, from the performing arts and the liberal arts to athletics and educational partnerships. Among other endowments, they previously established the Nagle Family Endowment for Music Theatre, which supported senior musical theatre majors making the transition to the profession.

Paige Nagle, who ran her own interior design firm, is an honorary Penn State alumna and graduate of Northwestern University, as well as a past member of the College of Arts and Architecture Campaign Volunteer Committee. Penn State honored Art Nagle, founding partner and currently senior advisor of Vestar Capital Partners, Inc., with the Alumni Fellow Award in 2000 and the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2001. Together they were the first recipients of Penn State’s Fundraising Volunteers of the Year Award in 2002.

“The Nagles have long been among the strongest supporters of our musical theatre program and we are so grateful for their generosity, which has helped us to put Penn State musical theatre on the map,” said Barbara Korner, dean of the College of Arts and Architecture. “Cary Libkin is more than deserving of this appointment. This endowment will enable us to recruit and retain top faculty in the field to lead our program.”

Libkin, a member of the Penn State School of Theatre faculty since 1990 and head of the musical theatre program since its establishment in 1994, has built the program into one of the strongest in the country, offering a bachelor of fine arts degree and master of fine arts degrees in directing, music directing and voice pedagogy for musical theatre. Since its inception, the program has raised more than $10 million in endowed scholarship and program support. Musical theatre students have performed at numerous events for Penn State alumni, across the United States and in Europe and Asia. Other university musical theatre programs frequently seek Libkin’s counsel regarding musical theatre training and education.

“Art and Paige have supported our musical theatre program almost since its inception,” said Libkin. “Their support has been integral to the growth and development of our nationally ranked program. As important as their financial support, has been their service as advisers and friends to musical theatre at Penn State. To be the first recipient of the Nagle Chair in Musical Theatre is both humbling and inspiring. Among other things, the endowed chair will greatly increase our ability to have major leaders in musical theatre work with our students.”

Libkin is currently finishing his term as president of the Musical Theatre Educators Alliance–International (MTEA), which he co-created in 2000. He has directed numerous musical theater productions at regional theaters around the country and has presented master classes nationally and internationally, including institutions in Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom. Libkin, who holds a bachelor's in theater from Bradley University and a master's of fine arts in directing from Carnegie Mellon University, is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and American Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), in addition to MTEA.

Penn State’s alumni and friends are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University's land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom; expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty; enhance the University's ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty; and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University's colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.

  • Cary Libkin-Next to Normal rehearsal

    Director Cary Libkin, center, shared notes with actors Christina Kidd and Tommy Hart during a rehearsal for last year's "Next to Normal" at the Pavilion Theatre on Penn State's University Park campus.

    IMAGE: Patrick Mansell
Last Updated January 19, 2015