Penn State Laureate Susan Russell to speak in Libraries

January 30, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- “The 21st century has created an entirely new student, one that perceives, receives and conceives information differently. Big data has changed the way students think, but not the way they experience knowledge. What if every teacher knows something from their own process of learning that can translate knowledge into an experience? What if all we have to do is remember 'how' we made 'what' we know part of our own lives? How far back do you remember? Who was that first teacher and what did she/he really teach you?,” asks Penn State’s Laureate Susan Russell.

In this session, Russell will lead a conversation about how the answers to these questions can help us be better teachers. Her talk, “Thanks, Mrs. Sawyer: How My First Grade Teacher is Helping Me Translate 21st Century Education,” will be presented from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library. To ensure a seat, registration is requested, although registration is not required.

Russell is associate professor in the School of Theatre, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate literature/criticism, playwriting, musical theater history and women in theater. She received a doctorate in theater studies in 2007 and a master of arts degree in 2003 from Florida State University’s School of Theatre and a bachelor of arts in theater in 1979, from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina.

In addition to her educational pursuits, Russell has a 25-year career as a professional actor on and off-Broadway as well as a career in regional theater and opera companies across the country. As a playwright, her works “Olympia” (1998) and “Present Perfect” (1999) have been produced by Emerging Artists Theatre in New York City, and in 2000, Lincoln Center selected “Present Perfect” for its Millennium Living Room Festival at the HERE Theatre in Soho. Her play “Severe Clear” was a semi-finalist in the 2006 O’Neill Theatre Center Playwriting Competition, and her 2009 play “Ecoute: Pieces of Reynaldo Hahn,” which was written for Penn State professor Norman Spivey, toured to 40 college and university campuses across the country. Russell is the author of “Body Language: Stop the Violence/Start the Conversation” and “Body Language: Cultural Conversations Reaching Out and Reaching In,” which are free to school systems and community organizations. Russell was honored in 2012 with the Penn State Commission for Women's Faculty Award for her work on women's issues at Penn State and in the surrounding community, in 2013 she was selected as one of the Faces of Penn State, and in 2014, Russell was appointed as the 2014-15 Penn State Laureate.

The presentation is sponsored by the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence and the University Libraries.

For more information or if you anticipate needing accessibility accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, contact Deidre Yingling at or 814-863-2599.

  • Susan sitting at a piano

    Susan Russell, associate professor of theater in Penn State's College of Arts and Architecture and 2014-15 Penn State laureate.

    IMAGE: Patrick Mansell
Last Updated February 03, 2015