Drama and young scholars units honored for teaching excellence

In recognition of their excellence in undergraduate education, the UW School of Drama and the UW Transition School/Early Entrance Program share the 2003 Brotman Awards for Instructional Excellence, the UW announced April 3.

Named after UW Regent Jeffrey Brotman, ’64, ’67, and his wife, Susan, the Brotman Instructional Excellence Award has been given since 1999 to units that enhance undergraduate education at the UW. This year’s winners each receive a $17,500 grant to further their undergraduate programs.

The School of Drama is renowned for its graduate-level programs such as the Professional Actor Training Program. But undergraduates also benefit from these professors-all but one of the faculty who teach M.F.A. courses also teach undergraduates. One fully produced play in the school’s subscription season is devoted solely to undergraduates every year, and one theater, the Cabaret, is reserved for the exclusive use of B.A. candidates.

All undergraduates, regardless of their area of interest, are exposed to acting, design and the history and literature of the theater. One innovative project is the “Once Upon a Weekend” program, which offers students a chance to write, direct and act in original short plays every quarter. A topic is chosen Wednesday afternoon; playwrights have to turn in their scripts Friday afternoon; and the plays are performed the next day at 10:30 p.m.

“What amazes me about our program is the classes are never overwhelming in size. Faculty get to know you and you get to know them,” writes one student.

Take four years of high school, compress it into three academic quarters, add 16 bright young students who have graduated from 7th or 8th grade, and you have the recipe for a remarkable educational success. For 25 years, the Transition School/Early Entrance Program at the UW’s Robinson Center for the Young Scholar has helped exceptional students make a transition to a university education.

Over those years, the program has produced two Rhodes Scholars, five Goldwater Scholars, three Dean’s Medallists, three NASA Space Grant Scholars, three Bondermann Travel Fellows, three Junior Medallists and numerous other award-winners.

The Transition Program helps students fresh out of middle school not only with academics, but with social and cultural adjustments to academe. Following that year, the students take regular UW classes through the Early Entrance Program, and keep in touch with their peers through special counseling and even a lounge set aside for their use.

“Our son was pushed and prodded, given goals we never guessed he could achieve, and moved ahead in the core subjects by quantum leaps. A freshman now, our son continues to relish his classes. He is having a little trouble narrowing his fields of interest, however. Currently he plans to have five majors!” write the parents of one graduate of the program.