By Amy Wells
Distinguished Professor of Theater Ursula Belden will be
remembered for her tireless dedication to helping students and fellow faculty and her world-renowned contributions to her craft.
Belden died Wednesday after a long struggle with cancer.
"Ursula was a mighty force on the faculty," said William Fisher,
interim director of the School
of Theater. "She led
the faculty and students in building one of the finest theater design programs
in the country -- one that is known and respected internationally. She was a
rigorous mentor who instilled a sense of purpose and a humanity in the work
that all admire and respect."
Belden, a member of the Ohio University faculty since 1986, headed the Production
Design and Technology Department within the School of Theater.
College of Fine Arts Dean Charles McWeeny reflected
on the focus, energy and professionalism Belden brought to the school.
"She was a dedicated teacher who was generous to her students and to
her colleagues," McWeeny said. "Ursula was a substantial life force,
and she will be deeply missed."
Belden has designed sets for dozens of Broadway and Off-Broadway
productions, including "Quilters," "Waitin' in the Wings,"
"Amadeus" and the award-winning revival of August Strindberg's
"A Dream Play." She also worked extensively in regional theater. Her
credits include productions for the Mark Taper Forum, The Kennedy Center, The
Cleveland Playhouse, The Denver Center, The Walnut Street Theatre, The
Cincinnati Playhouse, The Pittsburgh Public Theatre, The Folger Shakespeare
Theatre, The Indiana Repertory Theatre, GeVa and many others.
"She was a remarkable collaborator," said Shelley Delaney, head of
the university's Professional Actor Training Program, who worked with Belden on
last year's School
of Theater production of
"Knock Me a Kiss." "I learned so much more about my voice as a director
and about collaboration."
Delaney also emphasized Belden's dedication to her students. "Ursula
was tireless in connecting students and faculty to the relationships she had in
New York. She
helped her students exponentially."
Ana Milosevic -- a 2008 graduate now studying at Yale University,
also Belden's alma mater -- can certainly attest to that. Belden chose
Milosevic as the recipient of a scholarship she was able to designate by virtue
of being named the university's 2000 Distinguished Professor.
"She was more than a professor and mentor," Milosevic said.
"She was an inspirational force."
Belden earned numerous national awards and regularly was selected to
participate in the International Design Exhibition in Prague. She designed the American national
exhibit for the 2007 Prague Quadrennial and the first World Stage Design
Exhibit in Toronto
A dedicated teacher, she conducted workshops in Berlin,
Bali and Kathmandu. She also served as a
Fulbright Senior Specialist in Hong Kong and as a guest professor at London's Central St. Martin's School of Art
Professor of Costume Design Holly Cole remembered a statement Belden made
that conveyed her commitment to teaching and theater: "I strive to hold
the mirror up to nature in such a way as to reflect back compelling insights
into who we are, where we are headed and maybe where we should be headed."
"She was passionate, difficult, demanding and righteous, and we all
were enriched because we knew her," Cole said. "As a teacher, she
sought to unleash the student's imagination, and she demanded meaningful visual
While family members do not plan a funeral, they may organize a gathering in
New York City
in the future.