Many of us in the SLU community are remembering Mark Wilson this week, a cherished colleague and friend who died very unexpectedly one year ago. Mark was an associate professor in the theatre program and taught undergraduate courses on performance, lighting, and design. At the time of his death, there was an outpouring of stories paying tribute to his remarkable ability to use theatre to connect with students, inspire innovative collaborations across campus, and bring people together. You can read examples of these tributes by clicking here and here.
Mark had a special relationship with the Reinert Center. In addition to participating in several of our teaching institutes and workshops over the years, he was named an Innovative Teaching Fellow in 2015 and taught a theatre course in the Learning Studio in 2016. You can read more about the fellowship by clicking here and watch a video of Mark reflecting on his fellowship experience by clicking here. We feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Mark in this capacity and continue to mourn the loss of someone who believed so strongly in our mission and found such value in our work.
As a tribute to Mark, next week’s blog post will focus on the use of theatre activities to support student learning across disciplines and teaching situations. Special attention will be given to Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, a text that Mark discovered during his Innovative Teaching Fellowship and found particularly useful for aligning the goals of his course with the Jesuit tradition of social justice and caring for the whole person. Developing, sharing, and using these resources is one small way that we can remember Mark and ensure that his teaching legacy lives on.
Please use the comments section below to share your memories of Mark Wilson and the impact he made on SLU’s teaching and learning community.
4 thoughts on “Remembering Mark Wilson”
I have many memories of Mark, particularly his way of engaging and contributing in workshops and institutes. Mark brought a spirit of openness and curiosity to every session, even when the topic was one he himself could have led a workshop on. He treated every event as an occasion for learning.
One of my clearest memories of Mark is from a small workshop I led on developing a graphic syllabus. He was at a whiteboard, sketching out all the parts of his course and their relationships to one another, and his excitement and energy just kept building. As he shared some of his insights from the exercise, his passion for teaching and for reaching all students was so alive, so visible.
Mark’s positive energy and willingness to learn something new characterize virtually every encounter I had with him. His absence is deeply felt by the entire SLU community.
I was Mark’s Instructional Developer during his teaching fellowship through the Reinert Center, but I first encountered him when I was an undergraduate student at SLU in 2001. I was a member of the newly-formed men’s a cappella group the Bare Naked Statues and we were preparing for our first concert in Xavier Auditorium. Mark was a huge advocate for us throughout the process – and even volunteered his time to design (and run!) lighting for two weekend shows. He truly wanted us to thrive as a new student organization at SLU. The continued existence and success of the Bare Naked Statues – and so many other performance-based groups on this campus – would not have been possible without Mark’s selfless mentoring and support. He is greatly missed.
Mark took so much time to mentor me when I started teaching at SLU – though he always spoke to me like I might know more than him. He had a total respect for human beings, and talked and listened to people with the pretense that we were full of brilliant ideas. For some reason right now, the memory that dominates my thoughts is his Halloween class. He would fill our smaller theatre with stage tricks – flying bats, paintings that came alive, and bubbling cauldrons. Then he would teach the students about how these different special effects worked. I would bring my intro classes to his Halloween set-up. I remember learning from him that the difference between a smoking cauldron and a bubbling cauldron is the addition of dish soap (the base is water, into which you add dry ice). I really miss Mark, and I know my colleagues and our students do too. We are lucky to have known him and to have learned from him to keep our heads in the clouds.
Thank you for writing about him.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Mark through his work at the Reinert Center. He was always generous with his time, open to new experiences, and most of all, kind. Never one to shy away from helping others, Mark’s enthusiasm was infectious. I look back fondly at some of our conversations and marvel at how quickly they evolved into exciting new ideas. Mark’s impact as an educator was also felt outside of campus. For example, during the Focus on Technology and Teaching Conferences at UMSL, Mark quickly gained a reputation as a creative presenter on experience-based teaching. His enthusiasm for teaching and positive energy made him one of the conference’s star presenters and his impact on the conference is still being felt.
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