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Keith White Recognized by Lewis University for Dedication to Theater and Education

A former professor and director at Lewis University in Romeoville, Keith White of Joliet, who retired in May 2020, was honored with the university’s inaugural Dean’s Lifetime Award for Excellence. White expressed his gratitude for the recognition, emphasizing his pride in his longstanding association with Lewis University.

Due to the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the customary faculty retirement festivities, including speeches and dinners, were forgone. White received the prestigious award by mail, accompanied only by a gold watch, without the traditional farewell ceremony.

Mark Swain, the interim dean of The College of Humanities, Fine Arts, and Communications, highlighted White’s unwavering commitment to the university’s mission and his profound dedication to both the students and the theater program. Swain commended White for his role in overseeing an average of five high-quality productions annually and for fostering an environment where students from diverse backgrounds could participate in theatrical endeavors.

White’s journey into the realm of theater began with a transformative experience during his eighth-grade visit to a theatrical production, which inspired him to pursue a career in teaching rather than becoming a Lutheran minister as initially planned. His passion for theater blossomed during his high school years at Joliet East High School, where he actively engaged in theater and swing choir under the guidance of mentor Arlyne Nuti.

At Lewis University, White’s involvement in theater deepened, particularly through his mentorship under Chet Kondratowicz, the former chair of the theater department. White’s dedication to the program and his students was evident in his meticulous management of productions and his mentorship of aspiring actors, regardless of their academic backgrounds.

White’s transition from a performer to a professor was marked by his realization of a profound love for teaching and a desire to inspire and guide future generations of theater enthusiasts. His extensive contributions to Lewis University’s theater department, including directing over 30 productions, founding the Heritage Theatre Company, and imparting his expertise in acting and directing, underscore his enduring legacy within the institution.

In his retirement, White encourages current and aspiring theater professionals to nurture their passion for the craft, embrace technological advancements in the field, and recognize the importance of honing their skills through dedicated training and practice.