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Ursula Belden named Distinguished Professor

By Chiffon Staebler
Staff writer

Just last week, Professor of Theater Ursula Belden watched living art in action as Belgrade actors, musicians and artists campaigned against Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic, who has held office for 13 years.

Belden -- who was named Ohio University's Distinguished Professor for 2000-01 during the annual Honors Convocation on Saturday -- was in Yugoslavia for a one-week symposium on the interrelationships between theater, community and quality of life.

"There was much more theater outside," Belden said, noting that residents campaigned with concerts, street theater, graffiti and posters. These are the arts in their broadest and most fundamental form, she said.

"I believe we as artists have the duty to hold the mirror up to nature and give a truthful account of the human condition and do it in a manner that will touch the soul and heart as well as the mind," Belden said.

The Distinguished Professor Award recognizes faculty members' professional reputation, scholarly accomplishments and contributions to the university. The recipient of the lifetime designation is given one quarter of professional leave and can name one student annually to receive a Distinguished Professor Scholarship.

Belden, a member of the Ohio University faculty since 1986, teaches scene design in the School of Theater and has designed sets for Broadway and Off-Broadway plays. Her Broadway plays include "Quilters," "Waitin' in the Wings" and "Amadeus." She designed sets for the award-winning revival of Strindberg's "A Dream Play" and more than two dozen new plays Off-Broadway.

Her work has been regularly included in the United States exhibition at the internationally acclaimed Prague Quadrennial and she is a three-time recipient of the United States Institute of Theater and Technology Peggy Ezekiel Award.

Belden has 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. Internationally, she held an extended residency at the Volksbeuhne in Berlin and worked on the Canadian premiere of Mel Shapiro's "The Lay of the Land" at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton.

A committee of distinguished professors reviews nominations made by faculty to select the each year's Distinguished Professor. The Distinguished Professor Award is considered the university's highest academic honor.

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