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Each year, the College of Visual and Performing Arts honors a select group of alumni for their achievements in artistic performance, research and education. Our Distinguished Alumni Award recipients represent how far a degree in Arts, Theatre, Music or Dance can take you. We’re excited to welcome these Distinguished Alumni back to campus, celebrate their success, and have the opportunity to learn from their experiences and inspire future greatness.

2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

This month, College of Visual and Performing Arts will award its highest honor to five alumni who exemplify excellence in their fields, recognizing them for their achievements in artistry and education.

Sharif Bey ’00 MFA Art, Kathleen Kelley ’05 BFA Dance, Marian Wilson Kimber ’83 BA Music, Louisa Muller ’05 MM Music, and Ed Wilson ’80 MFA Theatre will be named CVPA’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni on November 7th at a dinner and awards presentation in UNC Greensboro Alumni House.

Meet this year’s honorees:

Sharif Bey

School of Art
MFA 2000

Sharif Bey Portrait

Sharif Bey is Associate Professor of Art at Syracuse University. Bey earned a BFA in ceramics from Slippery Rock University, an MFA in studio art from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a PhD in art education from Penn State University. He is a teaching artist with extensive experience in ceramics, sculpture, art community programming, and art teacher training. Bey has published numerous articles in such publications as Studies in Art Education, the Journal of Curriculum & Pedagogy, the Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, The Journal of Visual Culture and Gender, and the Journal of Power and Education. Additionally, Bey served on the editorial boards of Studies in Art Education and the Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, and is past editor of The Journal of Social Theory in Art Education.

Over the past 15 years, he has served as a resident artist at The Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia; The McColl Center for Arts and Innovation; Hunter College; the John Michael Kohler Art Center; and the Pittsburgh Glass Center. Bey is the 2017 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship awardee

in the Crafts/Sculpture category and the 2018 recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Fellowship. Bey’s work is featured in public collections including The Carnegie Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum (The Renwick Gallery), United States Embassies (Khartoum, Sudan/Kampala, Uganda/ Jakarta, Indonesia),

The Hickory Museum of Art, The Juliet Art Museum, and The Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African-American Art. His ceramic and mixed-media works reflect his interest in the visual heritage of Africa and Oceania, as well as contemporary African American culture.

Kathleen Kelley

School of Dance
BFA 2005

Kathleen Kelly

Kathleen Kelley is Associate Professor of Dance and Technology at Montclair State University and the Artistic Director of the intermedia production company Proteo Media + Performance. Her body of creative work pushes against a modernist model of authorship and instead explores collaboration, mutual support structures, and feminist modes of community. She is interested in the effects of technological enmeshment on the body, which leads her to create dance films, interactive installations, and live performance events that incorporate digital media. She is a 2019 Gibney Work Up Resident Artist, a 2018 Chez Bushwick Artist in Residence, and a 2015-2016 LEIMAY Fellow. Her recent video work includes cinematography for the dance film Future Becomes Past, an official selection of over 12 film festivals; choreography for Maya Beiser’s music video Air, which premiered on NPR’s First Look; and direction and cinematography for Territory, a short poetry/dance hybrid film that was published in the TriQuarterly literary journal. Her recent performance work includes the premiere of “Frozen Baby” at the Work Up 5.1 series at Gibney Dance; “Separate Oceans,” an evening- length premiere at Theaterlab NYC; the interactive installation “Digitized Figures” at Gowanus Loft; and showcase performances in Movement Research at the Judson, the SOAK Festival, the CURRENT SESSIONS, Nimbus OFFLINE choreography series, and HATCH series amongst others. She serves on the editorial board of the journal Dance Education in Process and mentors fellow artists in writing, production, and film development. She has a BFA in dance and a BA in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and an MFA in dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Marian Wilson Kimber

School of Music
BA 1983

Wilson Kimber

Musicologist Marian Wilson Kimber is the author of research that explores biography, gender, compositional process, musical reception, and elocution. Her publications have centered on Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, women in music, and the role of speech in concert life. Wilson Kimber’s book, The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word (University of Illinois Press, 2017), was awarded the Society for American Music’s H. Earle Johnson Publication Subvention, as well as a subvention from the American Musicological Society’s 75 PAYS Endowment, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation. As a member of the duo Red Vespa with pianist Natalie Landowski, Wilson Kimber has revived the art of the musical reading, performing the spoken-word compositions of Phyllis Fergus, Frieda Peycke, and others.

Wilson Kimber’s studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro led to a BA in music theory and a Master of Library Science degree. She was awarded a PhD in musicology from Florida State University with a dissertation on the autograph sources of Felix Mendelssohn’s works for solo piano and orchestra. Her publications that treat anti-Semitism in Mendelssohn reception appeared in The Mendelssohns: Their Music in History and Mendelssohn Perspectives. Her frequently cited article, “The Suppression of Fanny Mendelssohn: Rethinking Feminist Biography,” was published in 19th-Century Music, and her study of Hensel’s remarkable piano cycle, Das Jahr, appeared in The Journal of Musicological Research. As part of the celebrations surrounding the two-hundredth anniversary of Felix Mendelssohn’s birth, Wilson Kimber appeared as a keynote speaker for a conference held at Seoul University under the auspices of four Korean universities. She has presented numerous papers at meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music, and is currently serving as SAM’s 2020 program chair.

Wilson Kimber has taught at the School of Music of the University of Iowa since 2004. At Iowa, she has regularly developed new courses, including Music in Jane Austen’s World, Classical Music and Difference, and Music in the Great Depression. In 2011 she was selected to give the Master Teacher Lecture at the meeting of the American Musicological Society.

Louisa Muller

School of Music
MM 2005

Louisa Muller

Heralded by Opera News for her “absorbing, provocative staging,” Louisa Muller made her European debut last season directing a critically acclaimed new production of The Turn of the Screw for Garsington Opera. In the 2019-2020 season, she makes her debut with Opera Colorado leading Tosca, returns to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to direct Madama Butterfly and to direct again the annual Rising Stars Concert featuring the artists of the Ryan Opera Center, in addition to returning to the Metropolitan Opera roster for Akhnaten. Future engagements include a new production of a Baroque title with Pinchgut Opera. Last season she debuted

with Minnesota Opera and Los Angeles Opera, leading La traviata and Don Carlo, respectively, and returned to the Metropolitan Opera for its revival of Don Giovanni. She also returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to stage the Rising Stars Concert.

She received rich critical acclaim for her 2017 staging of Das Rheingold with the New York Philharmonic, which the New York Times called “riveting…a remarkable evening of music theater” and named among its list of the Best Classical Music Performances of the year. Since 2015 she has been a frequent and beloved presence at Wolf Trap Opera where she has directed new productions of Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, called

“a dazzling thing all around” by the Washington Post; The Rape of Lucretia, with the Washington Post again heralding her work as “an intense wallop of a well-sung production”; Tosca, praised as “searing summer verismo” by Washington Classical Review; and Roméo et Juliette, “the drama taut” and with “compelling stage pictures,” reported the Washington Post.

As a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s directing staff, Muller has helmed previous revivals of Don Giovanni as well as Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci and L’elisir d’amore. At the famed company, she has assisted such directors as David McVicar, Robert Lepage, Robert Carsen, Bartlett Sher, Michael Grandage, Stephen Wadsworth, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, John Copley, and Giancarlo del Monaco.

Previously she was a staff director at Houston Grand Opera where she prepared alternate casts of La bohème and Beatrice and Benedict, and directed Theofanidis’s The Refuge, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly at Miller Outdoor Theatre. She has also served on the directing staffs of Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Wolf Trap Opera Company, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Opera North (USA).

Invested in dramatic training for singers, she has been a faculty member of the Scuola di belcanto, Urbania and has worked regularly with the artists in the renowned Houston Grand Opera Studio. She has served as a guest dramatic coach at the National Opera Studio in London, Houston Grand Opera’s Young Artists’ Vocal Academy, Wolf Trap Opera Studio, Lawrence University, and the University of Texas at Brownsville, as well as directing opera scenes for the Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera Studio, and Wolf Trap Opera Studio.

She holds degrees from Lawrence University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a citizen of the United States and Germany, and makes her home in Vienna.

Ed Simpson

School of Theatre
MFA 1980

Ed Simpson

Ed Simpson holds a BA in speech and drama from Guilford College, and an MFA in acting and directing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is Professor Emeritus from the Department of Theatre and Dance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he taught acting, directing, and playwriting from 1980 to 2006. From 2006 to 2018, he was Professor of Theatre and Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at High Point University.

Ed has written close to 25 plays which have been widely and regularly produced throughout the United States and Canada. His published plays include Additional Particulars, first directed by UNCG alumnus Michael Lilly and for which he was awarded the 2000 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and the Backstage-West Garland Award for playwriting; Elephant Sighs; The Battle of Shallowford; The Comet of St. Loomis; A Point of Order (premiered at UNCG under the direction of Professor John Gulley (all published by Samuel French); Electric City Suite, a cycle of six plays (published
by Dramatic Publishing); the book for the musical The Amazing Goldin; and Periphery, a docudrama about the 1960 Greensboro sit-in, commissioned by the Community Theatre of Greensboro under the Artistic Director of UNCG alumnus Mitchel Summers (published by Dramatic Publishing). His produced one-act plays include Tenderness, Carving Rocks, Hot to Spa, Standing Up V and E, Ladies and Gentlemen…This Is Your Crisis!, Pratt Falls, Sounds of the Shoah, and Dancing with Father. Most recently, Ed collaborated with actor and former student Brandon Burk on Invention, a one-man production documenting Burk’s five-and-a-half-year imprisonment and subsequent redemption. The play premiered at High Point University in 2016 and was subsequently performed off-Broadway in 2018.

In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Robert Kohler called Additional Particulars “Human comedy par excellence, as
if Chekhov were reincarnated in America’s Wal-Mart culture…. Simpson’s sympathy and affection for his characters’ weaknesses are signs of that rare combination of a humanist with a genuine sense of humor.” In a feature story for the Los Angeles Times, Kathleen Foley wrote: “Full of angst and unfulfilled desires, Simpson’s characters are heartbreakingly imperfect. Yet under the darkness, Simpson’s works shine with an essential sweetness that is often a rarity in modern theater.”

For television Ed wrote for the ABC Family Channel’s State of Grace (co-created and co-executive produced by UNCG alumna Brenda Lilly). Film credits include the feature film Elephant adapted from his play, directed, and produced, starring Ed Asner and UNCG alumnus David Wells and released by Green Apple Entertainment; the short film The Ghosts We Know (co-producer); and the short film Connected (co-writer, co-producer) for which he won both the “Best Screenplay” and “Best Film” awards at the 2012 Festival of Media Arts.

For the stage Ed has directed over 70 productions, including Waiting for Godot, All My Sons, Into the Woods, On the Verge, Hot l Baltimore, Our Town, All in the Timing, The Rimers of Eldritch, As You Like It, The Time of Our Lives, A Flea in Her Ear, The Skin of Our Teeth, and The Pirates of Penzance. He has received four “Meritorious Achievement Awards for Directing” from the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival. Additionally, from 1981 to 1989 he was Artistic Director/ General Manager of Summer Theatre by the Grove, an Equity Guest Artist theatre in residence at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

A member of Actors’ Equity, he has performed professionally in theatres throughout the United States, including leading roles in Waiting for Godot, Bus Stop, Blithe Spirit, The Elephant Man, Line, Terra Nova, Butterflies Are Free, Moon Over the Brewery, The Battle of Shallowford, and Broadway Bound.

He is the recipient of the IUP Distinguished Faculty Award for Creative Arts in both 1998 and 2002, and the 2012 Ruth Ridenhour Scholarly and Professional Achievement Award from High Point University. He lives in Winston-Salem with his wife, Cydney.


Previous Recipients


Vanessa Cornett ’04 DMA
Joseph Forbes ’76 BFA
Jonathan D. Green ’92 DMA
Tiffany Rhynard ’98 BA Dance
Kyle Webster ’99 BFA Art


Carla Gannis ’92 BA Art
Hugh Hysell ’88 BFA Acting
David Kish ’02 MM Music Education, ’03 DMA Instrumental Conducting
Connie McKoy ’89 MM Music Education, ’98 PhD Music Education
Doug Risner ’88 BFA Dance, ‘90 MFA Dance, ‘01 PhD Curriculum and Teaching 


Dr. Candace Bailey ’85 MM Piano Performance
Bonnie Becker ’76 BFA Design and Theatre Technology
John Cipolla ’02 DMA Clarinet Performance
Janet Galván ’73 BM Music Education, ’74 MM Music Education, ‘87 PhD
Lee Hall ’55 BFA Painting
Ann Law ’07 MA Dance Education


Barbara L. Geer ‘88 MM Music Education
Dr. Michael Hall ‘00 DMA Music Performance
Susan E. Mickey ‘77 BFA Acting
John Shepard ’71 BM Theory and Composition
Dr. Jan Van Dyke ’89 EdD Curriculum & Educational Foundations and Department of Dance Professor Emerita


Christal Brown ’01 BFA Dance
Dr. Anna Harwell Celenza ’89 BA Music Studies
Chris Chalk ‘01 BFA Acting
Dr. Donald Hamman ‘80 PhD Music Education
Laura Poe ’01 BM Music Education, ’04 MM Performance