Renard moves to BCC communications department
The Barton Community College theater program has a new leader at the helm. Former Dean of Academics Dr. Rick Abel is now the theater program director and instructor, college officials announced Thursday.
Abel came to Barton in 2007 and served as the Assistant and Dean of Liberal Arts and Science before becoming the Dean of Academics. However, college officials noted he has a strong background and passion for the arts, and that theater is an area about which he is especially passionate.
He has a bachelor’s degree in speech and theater from the University of Charleston, his master’s degree is in theater education from Emerson College and his doctorate in education is from the University of Central Florida. He served as the Assistant Dean of Liberal Arts for Central New Mexico Community College before coming to Barton. All of these positions included administering a theater program. He has also served on many arts-related and theater-focused committees.
Abel spent much of his youth in New York and took in many a Broadway show. He considers himself well-versed in the theater lexicon.
“My mom and dad knew I was interested in theater and took me to many shows, and as I got older I began to go to them myself,” he said. “I saw whatever I could.”
As the head of the program Abel said he plans to broaden the horizons of not only his students, but of community members both as performers and audience members.
“A lot of people don’t recognize the significance or difference between theater in an educational environment versus commercial and community theater,” he said. “We have always had a very specific focus on that and we remember that we are an educational institution first. I want to introduce them to plays or playwrights they might not know about, but I also want to pick plays that have some mass appeal.”
Abel said the program offers students a great environment to learn using cutting-edge equipment and audience members a place to create great theater experiences. The auditorium was renovated in 2014. Improvements include state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment and a new seating arrangement to create aisles.
Abel said he looks forward to the challenges of serving both the community and his students in the new role.
“All theater should be entertaining,” he said, “But I want to educate them in some way as well.”