Kelly Bremner ’99, associate professor of theatre and department chair at Emory & Henry College, is the winner of the 2017 Outstanding Faculty Award from the Virginia State Council for Higher Education.
Since 1987, the award has recognized faculty at Virginia’s colleges and universities “who exemplify the highest standards of teaching, research and service,” according to the Council, which on two previous occasions had honored Bremner for her teaching.
“I feel very lucky,” says Bremner. “I am a newly tenured professor, so in many ways I am still at the beginning of my teaching career. I still have so much to learn, but this award encouraged me to keep heading in the direction I am currently headed with my teaching, which is primarily about building bridges between the stage and the world around it.”
Implementing a personal, hands-on style of teaching, Bremner employs project-based course designs to “get my students applying what they are learning in a context that I hope feels like a real-world situation. I also try hard to help my students value their own story as it relates to the work in the class. I want them to bring themselves to their learning and see their leanings and their blind spots because of their stories.”
Bremner’s scholarly interests include creative activity, and she has a passion for developing new musical works and works that connect the stage to social and civic issues. With a passion for arts advocacy, higher education and theatre in rural America, Bremner plans to devote her upcoming sabbatical to begin a research project on Appalachian theatres which she hopes will culminate in an anthology of Appalachian plays.
She fondly recalls her years at HWS, from her relationships with faculty to the opportunity to see Gloria Steinem L.H.D.’98 offer the Commencement address in 1998, and Wilma Mankiller and Billie Jean King receive the Elizabeth Blackwell Award in 1996 and 1998, respectively. “I learned the value of the liberal arts in becoming a vibrant and curious artist, and I take that same approach to my teaching today.”
Graduating summa cum laude, Bremner went on to earn advanced degrees in English, music and theatre, including a Ph.D. in theatre from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a specialist in musical performance, applied theatre, devised theatre, directing and civic engagement through performance.
Bremner has also been recognized with a YWCA Tribute to Woman Award for excellence in education in honor of her teaching and mentorship of students who have excelled in major theatre competitions. She has received numerous grants and her work has been seen professionally in the Midwest and the Northeast.