Charlotte Canning

The University of Texas System will distribute $1.8 million in awards for excellence in teaching to 72 educators, including 33 UT faculty members, today during an on-campus ceremony.

Each award presented by the UT System Board of Regents is between $15,000 and $30,000 and is based on a three-year evaluation by “campus and external judges,” according to a UT System press release.

The Board of Regents hopes to expand the award to the UT health institutions because of the award’s success, UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa wrote in the release.

“It is our System’s responsibility to provide an exceptional education to our students, and we believe this award program not only furthers that goal but helps promote a culture of excellence that produces better teaching, better learning and ultimately, better prepared graduates to enter our work force,” Cigarroa wrote.

Theater professor Charlotte Canning is one of the educators who will be awarded.

“I can’t think of any greater honor than my students saying this class was of value to them or that I have helped them,” Canning said.

Of her teaching philosophy, Canning said it is important to know the past to affect the future.

“If nothing else, history teaches us how rarely success is a matter of sheer luck and talent but almost always of hard work and experimentation,” Canning wrote.

Canning said she appreciates her students showing that her classes were of value to them.

“It is such an incredible honor, but the really amazing moment, the biggest honor, was reading the letters from those students,” Canning said.

Theater and government alumna Sarah White took Canning’s theater history class as a senior. White said Canning is unique in her ability to convey the topics in which she is an expert.

“She’s incredibly smart,” White said. “There’s a handful of professors who are brilliant and relatable.”

She said Canning is an engaging teacher, who not only taught the plays but helped the students understand the social context in which they were written.

“Instead of sitting and talking about the play, we got up and practiced that theater,” White said.

She said the unique way Canning taught changed how she thinks about plays.

“Had I known she was teaching this class, I would have taken it sooner,” White said. 

Printed on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 as: Board of Regents awards unique, outstanding educators.

After more than two years of compiling elements from an American playwright, the Harry Ransom Center opened its doors Thursday to theater fans, historians and the UT community to observe what defined Tennessee Williams as an artist. The center organized the exhibit “Becoming Tennessee Williams” to celebrate the playwright’s 100th birthday. The exhibit — which displays Williams’ manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and artwork — has five sections: the poorly received play “Battle of Angels,” the creation of “The Glass Menagerie,” themes of masculinity in Williams’ plays, the development of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and the adaptation of his plays to film. Exhibition organizer and curator Charlotte Canning led a gallery tour Thursday for more than 30 people. The exhibit included Marlin Brando’s address book, letters Williams wrote to his lovers, correspondence between Williams and director Elia Kazan and alternate drafts of “The Glass Menagerie.” The section about themes of masculinity exposed how Williams’ plays confounded ideas of gender, said Canning, a theater and dance professor. Another section, which describes the transformation from staged productions to films, shows how Williams confronted larger social issues such as sexuality, racism and censorship. The section also illustrates Williams’ exceptional ability to collaborate with Hollywood directors and producers, Canning said. Kazan adapted “A Streetcar Named Desire” to film, starring Marlin Brando in 1951. His work transformed many people in his own life into characters of his plays, and he transformed daily life into art that different people could relate to. “[Williams] excels at the emotional family dramas that are at the heart of the modern American theater, but moves beyond their psychological realism to add poetic and theatrical elements that give the works greater artistic range and richness,” said UT English professor James Loehlin. The exhibit features more than 250 items from the Ransom Center’s collection to reveal Williams’ process of artistic creation — a process that the center’s website calls revolutionary. The center is one of the primary archives of Williams’ work. “I’m really excited about the exhibit,” said theatre and dance sophomore Christina Robertson. “The plays he wrote are timeless.” “Becoming Tennessee Williams” is available for the public to view at the Ransom Center from Friday until July 31. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on Thursday until 7 p.m. It will also be open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.