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UNCSA History

Facts and information about the history of the UNCSA campus and programs.

Commencement Speakers



8 June 1966

Dr. Vittorio Giannini
Founder/President, NCSA

2 June 1967 Dr. Louis Mennini
Acting President, NCSA
5 June 1968 Dr. Robert Ward
President, NCSA
6 June 1969 William Trotman
Dean, School of Drama, NCSA
30 May 1970 Agnes de Mille
5 June 1971 Joseph Papp
Founder, Producer of the New York Shakespeare Festival
28 May 1972 Robert Shaw
10 June 1972 Jean Dalrymple
2 June 1973 Carmen deLavallade
Modern Dancer
1 June 1974 Nananne Porcher
Lighting Designer
31 May 1975 Peter Zeisler
29 May 1976 Grace J. Rohrer
Secretary, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
28 May 1977 Valerie Bettis
3 June 1978 Dr. Frank G. Dickey
Interim Dean of Academic Studies, NCSA
2 June 1979 Hon. Carl Stewart
Speaker of the House, North Carolina House of Representatives
31 May 1980 Schuyler Chapin
Dean, School of the Arts, Columbia University
30 May 1981 J. Michael Miller
Associate Dean, New York University
29 May 1982 Terry Sanford
President, Duke University
28 May 1983 Dr. William Friday
President, University of North Carolina System
2 June 1984 Ruth Page
Dancer and Choreographer
1 June 1985 W. McNeil Lowry
31 May 1986 Alexander C. Ewing
President, Board of Visitors & Hillbright Enterprises
30 May 1987 Dr. William Friday
President, University of North Carolina System
28 May 1988 J. H. Froelich, Jr.
Trustee, NCSA
President, Froelich Co.
27 May 1989 Hon. Patrick G. Dorsey
Secretary, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
26 May 1990 Robert Ward
Composer; Former Chancellor, NCSA
1 June 1991 Alexander C. Ewing
Chancellor, NCSA
30 May 1992 Debbie Allen
Producer, Director, Writer, Choreographer, and Performer
29 May 1993 Peter Hedges
Drama Alumnus, Class of 1984
28 May 1994 Jane Alexander
Chairman, National Endowment of the Arts
27 May 1995 Henry J. Pankey
Drama Alumnus, Class of 1974
1 June 1996 James Houlik
Saxophonist; Faculty, School of Music, NCSA
31 May 1997 Frank Capra, Jr.
30 May 1998 Alfred Uhry
Playwright, Screenwriter, Lyricist, and Librettist
29 May 1999 Kathy Bates
Actress and Director
27 May 2000 Robert Mann
2 June 2001 Mandy Patinkin
1 June 2002 Dr. William Friday
Academic Administrator and UNC-TV Host
31 May 2003 Twyla Tharp
Dancer and Choreographer
29 May 2004

Rosemary Harris (High School Commencement)

Forrest Whitaker (College Commencement)

28 May 2005

Paul Sills (High School Commencement)
Improvisational Actor

Desmond Heeley (College Commencement)
Theater Designer

3 June 2006

Robert Lindgren (High School Commencement)
Dancer; Former Dean, School of Dance, NCSA

Arthur Laurentis (College Commencement)
Playwright, Librettist, Director, and Screenwriter

2 June 2007

Rebecca Walker (High School Commencement)

Danny Elfman (College Commencement)
Film Composer

31 May 2008

Jesus Moroles (High School Commencement)
Granite Sculptor

Ming Cho Lee (College Commencement)
Set Designer

30 May 2009

J. T. Rogers (High School Commencement)
High School Alumnus, Class of 1990; Playwright

Kristin Chenoweth (College Commencement)
Singer and Actress

29 May 2010

Angus MacLachlan (High School Commencement)
Playwright and Screenwriter

Peter Bogdanovich (College Commencement)
American Film Historian, Director, Writer, Producer, Actor, and Critic

28 May 2011 Alan Menken
Pianist and Composer
6 May 2012 David Rambo (College Commencement)
Playwright and Screenwriter
20 May 2012 Julie Kent (High School Commencement)
Principal Ballet Dancer, American Ballet Theatre
4 May 2013 Jerry Nadal (College Commencement)
Arts Management, Cirque de Soleil
18 May 2013 Thomas Shumacher (High School Commencement)
Arts Management, Disney Theatrical Group
10 May 2014 Jordan Kerner (College Commencement)
Former Dean, School of Filmmaking, NCSA; Film Producer
17 May 2014 Gillian Murphy (High School Commencement)
Principal Ballet Dancer, American Ballet Theatre
9 May 2015 Cheryl Boone Isaacs (College Commencement)
President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
16 May 2015 David LaChapelle (High School Commencement)
High School Alumnus; Photographer and Director
7 May 2016 Kelli O'Hara (College Commencement)
Actress and Opera Singer
14 May 2016 Helen Pickett (High School Commencement)
Dancer and Choreographer
6 May 2017 Nancy Seruto (College Commencement)
Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering
13 May 2017 Tim Guinee (High School Commencement)
Drama Alumnus, Class of 1985; Actor and Director
5 May 2018 Paul Tazwell (College Commencement)
Design and Production Alumnus, Class of 1986; Costume Designer
18 May 2018 Katreese Barnes (High School Commencement)
High School Alumna, Class of 1980; Producer, Composer, and Vocalist
4 May 2019 Mary-Mitchell Campbell (College Commencement)
High School Alumna; Music Director and Performer
18 May 2019 Desmond Richardson (High School Commencement)
Ballet Dancer; Former Principal, American Ballet Theatre
9 May 2020 Peter Hedges (College Commencement)
Drama Alumnus, Class of 1984; Playwright, Screenwriter, Film Director and Producer
16 May 2020

Suri Bieler (High School Commencement)
High School Design & Production Alumna, Class of 1971; Owner of Eclectic/Encore Props

22 May 2021

Stephen McKinley Henderson (High School and College Commencements)
Drama Alumnus, Class of 1972; Stage and film actor

7 May 2022

Elizabeth Sobol (College Commencement)
Music Alumna, Class of 1981; President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center

14 May 2022

Paloma Garcia-Lee (High School Commencement)
High School Drama Alumna, Class of 2008; Actor, Dancer, and Singer