UCM Faculty Member Receives Kennedy Center’s Highest Honor
As a professor of theatre, scholar, and artist, Julie Rae Mollenkamp’s commitment to excellence at the University of Central Missouri is well known by her students, colleagues and patrons of the arts at UCM. What she does for the theatre profession at home and on a broader scale was recently recognized as the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) honored her with its most prestigious award.
Mollenkamp was recognized through the presentation of the Kennedy Center Gold Medal at the KCACTF Region 5 Festival 52, Jan. 19-25 in Sioux Falls, S.D. The event was hosted by South Dakota State University and The University of South Dakota. Nominations from faculty and students contributed to the award selection, which was made within each of eight KCACTF regions.
In addition to recognizing extraordinary work in educational theatre teaching and production, the KCACTF Gold Medal honors an individual who has dedicated their time, artistry and enthusiasm to the development of KCACTF, and has made a strong commitment to the organization’s goals and values. Mollenkamp vast experiences and contributions to her craft that have advanced the theatre education profession contributed to her selection.
The longtime professor said she was thankful to KCACFT for “this humbling recognition.” She added, “I am a better wife, mother, teacher, artist and human being because of the opportunity to serve in this organization for the last 25 years - it has been the greatest gift of my career. I am truly grateful for the honor of helping our students grow into their best selves."
According to the KCACTF, Mollenkamp’s extensive career includes work in directing and acting in more than 90 different projects. She is actively involved in the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri, and is a past member of its Board of Governors. Her service with KCACTF and past productions have led to 56 Meritorious Achievement Awards, two invitations to the Region V Festival and eight National Accommodations, including the Citizen Artist Award. She also has been involved with the National Communication Association (NCA) Theatre Division, serving as chair from 1999-2001, and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, where she served from 2006-2008 as vice president for membership and marketing.
Mollenkamp has served as National Playwriting Program Chair for KCACTF Region 5, and currently serves on the National Kennedy Center American College Theatre Committee as Region 5 member-at-large and as Representation, Equity, and Diversity Coordinator. She also is a member of the Dramatist Guild, the Society for Stage Directors and Choreographers and Statera Arts, an organization committed to bringing women into full and equal participation in the arts.
Throughout her distinguished professional career, Mollenkamp has received many accolades as a teacher, director, playwright and scholar. This includes recognition by UCM’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences as a 2005 recipient of the Faculty Achievement Award, followed in 2006 by the CAHSS Excellence in Teaching Award.
In 2013 she received the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri Wayne Brown Award for Outstanding Teacher, and during the same year, she was appointed as the Meridith Harmon Sauer Distinguished Professor of Theatre at UCM. This is the most prestigious honor given to a UCM Theatre and Dance faculty member. Her many accolades also include the NCA Division of Theatre’s Excellence in Teaching and Service Award and Lifetime Achievement Award, and the KCACTF Road Warrior Award.
Among Mollenkamp’s vast projects, she premiered her one-woman performance of “In Conclusive Woman” at the Ryan Repertory Theatre in New York in 2009, a work that was published in “Best American Short Plays,” 2006-2007. It also was included in the Rutgers’ 30 year Feminist Artists Archives, and selected for publication in Applause Books’ “Best American Monologues."
Her performance work, “Another Woman’s Baby,” premiered at the University of Missouri and was performed at Ryan Repertory Theatre in July 2019. She has acted in and directed numerous plays that have been shared with a UCM audience in the James L. Highlander Theatre, among the achievements was her leading role performance as Violet Weston in the Pulitizer Prize-winning play, “August: Osage County."
The parents of two sons, Mollenkamp and her husband, Daniel, are the owners of Smashing Frame Productions, a film and theatre production company.