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|PROFESSOR SUSAN KATTWINKEL
Department of Communication
|Theatre Professor Takes Lead in First Year Experience|
|By Tonesha Curtis|
To say that Dr. Susan Kattwinkel has a zest for life would be an understatement.
Although her resume depicts a veteran in the field of theater, exchanging stories with her shows she is that much more. Her enthusiasm for life and her career shines almost as brightly as her ground-level office window. She's not the type of person that one would find making a bucket list or New Year's resolutions, but she has skydived, studied in Italy and New York and directed a few "Vagina Monologues" productions.
Google her name and one would find that Dr. Kattwinkel's list of past projects, research and titles exceed three pages. Her secret to taking on so many things at once does not include some sort of magical balancing trick. In fact, she says that she tends to focus on only one thing at a time.
In her first Focus on the Faculty article in 2004, written by Ashley Cole, Dr. Kattwinkel discussed the development of a major project called "Virtual Vaudeville." The project gave modern day theater lovers a chance to experience online what vaudeville was like to a variety of spectators: from inexpensive seats for the poor to the front-row area reserved for those more financially successful.
She says a lack of funding closed the curtain on virtual vaudeville for now. “We would like to do more performances," she says. "It has potential to be a good educational and we can use it as a way to do our research."
Kattwinkel's career recently entered a different stage. She is currently the director of the College of Charleston's First Year Experience and commits herself to the role.
The First Year Experience is designed to assist new students with their transition to college and provide them with the skills that will help them succeed. The program also helps new students meet other new students at gives them the opportunity to meet, study under and work with top faculty.
Kattwinkel says that the FYE program has three goals: support, connect and acknowledge. The most obvious goal is to support the students as they prepare for advanced academic work. Second, the goal is to connect them to the college so that they are not intimidated by it or the faculty. Last, FYE has to acknowledge social transitions.
So what keeps a person with so much on her plate motivated? "I like to change things up a lot. I love teaching, traveling and theater. I get to experience them all as my career," Kattwinkel says. She occupies her spare time with publishing and speaking at conferences. She has recently appeared in the play "Dead Man's Cell Phone" at Mount Pleasant's Village Playhouse.
Spoken like someone used to being on stage-- different stages she has moved effortlessly through during her distinguished career.