The future of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) is in the hands of some Penn Staters, as Lea Asbell-Swanger, assistant director of the Center for the Performing Arts, and David Will, facilities manager for the college, take on leadership roles. On July 1, Asbell-Swanger began her term as president, and Will began his second term as vice president for conferences. Both will serve for three years. In addition, Asbell-Swanger was recently named one of five USITT fellows, an honorary designation bestowed for life upon a member deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to the profession of theatre and the work of the institute.
Both Asbell-Swanger and Will have long histories with USITT. Among other leadership roles, Asbell-Swanger was chair of the transition advisory team that developed and implemented an overhaul of the institute's governance structure. Other previous positions include vice commissioner for human issues and for programming, as well as co-chair of the Living History Project, which gave her the opportunity to interview numerous longtime members. She joined the organization in 1992 and has been a panelist at each institute conference since 1993.
Asbell-Swanger has served three consecutive terms on USITT's board of directors, beginning in 2003. Today she is the institute’s first president elected after the organization changed its board structure to a governance model. “I want to be sure the organization keeps moving along that path by actively engaging the board and membership in strategic planning and organizational assessment. It is imperative for the institute to stay on top of the rapidly changing technology within the performing arts industry and provide opportunities for its membership to do the same.”
Will has also been involved with USITT for more than 20 years. He coordinated the organization's 50th anniversary celebration in 2010, in addition to the annual USITT conference and stage expo in 2011 and 2012. He previously served as management commissioner, and was a member of the commissioners' steering committee for six consecutive years, helping guide the scheduling of conference activities. Along with serving two terms on the board of directors, Will chaired the 1997 annual conference held in Pittsburgh. This began a long service on the institute’s conference committee, leading to his current office position. Will says he appreciates the opportunity to network with leading professionals in his field through USITT. “In my current role, I want to take USITT to the cities of North America that will provide the greatest opportunity for members to attend, experience, and build those relations that encourage collaboration in the design, management, and technical arts of theatrical entertainment.”
For more information on USITT, visit usitt.org.
The College of Arts and Architecture has long been active in USITT. Other faculty/staff members involved in the organization, all from the School of Theatre, include:
Travis DeCastro, associate director for production and head of the B.F.A. in State Management, just completed six years as treasurer and is a member of the International Committee.
William Kenyon, head of the B.F.A. in Design and Technology, is past commissioner for education and representative on the International Committee to the International Organization for Scenographers, Theatre Architects, and Technicians (OISTAT).
Jeff Cole, electrician, and Ken Friedhoff, master electrician/lighting supervisor, are members of the conference committee
Eric Rouse, technical director, is on the conference committee and the board of the Ohio Valley USITT chapter.