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Currents: a tribute to julie

In Memory of Assistant Professor of Fine and Performing Arts Julie Vogt

Julie Vogt died peacefully on the morning of Dec. 4, 2011, held by her husband and surrounded by her family at home in Grantham, N.H. Vogt, who joined Colby-Sawyer College in August 2010 as assistant professor of Fine and Performing Arts, succumbed after a months-long struggle with cancer.

Professor Vogt taught courses in acting, theater appreciation, and directing and stage management, as well as served as theatre director of the college's productions. “She was a wonderful, dedicated teacher who brightened our theatre programs and our lives,” says President Galligan.

Professor Vogt earned a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. in theatre and drama at the University of Wisconsin/Madison, and taught at the University of Wisconsin and University of Texas/Austin.

She was a creative, inspiring, loving and courageous person, mother and professor who cared deeply about her work with students, say her colleagues and close friends, Pamela Serota Cote and Kathleen Farrell. Professor Vogt was intensely committed to the college's efforts to increase diversity and provide a welcoming and inclusive campus.

“There are some people you cross paths with in this world who stand out in the crowd, whom you immediately love and want to be around,” says Serota Cote, associate dean of International and Diversity Programs. “That was how many of us – friends, colleagues, and students – felt about Julie.”

Farrell, assistant professor of Social Sciences and Education, emphasized that Vogt loved teaching, and her students loved her. Her theatre students dedicated their most recent play, "Not the Usual SNAFU," to her, which was performed earlier this month. Professor Vogt, much to students' surprise, was able to attend a performance. “Julie brought energy, enthusiasm and optimism to campus,” Professor Farrell says.

For her debut as theatre director at Colby-Sawyer, Professor Vogt assembled a cast of students and veteran actors from the community for the American premiere of James Shirley's 1635 play, “The Lady of Pleasure,” for the fall production in November 2010. She adapted this Jacobean era play to the mod era of 1960s England, renaming it “The Real Housewives of London.” By placing the play in a modern context, Professor Vogt knew the cast would be able to create characters whose lives of excess and promiscuity were familiar and accessible to the audience.

“Although the language is from another era, the major themes and dramatic action are timeless,” Professor Vogt explained weeks before opening night. “The play is a satire about excessive consumption and choices individuals must make in a libertine, 'anything goes' culture.”

For her second production, performed in February 2011, Professor Vogt directed Charles Ludlam's 1979 play, “The Enchanted Pig,” a comic fairy tale about a king, his three daughters and the pig that one daughter is fated to marry. The play featured a new cast of students and community members, and dances by a group of exuberant and charming Windy Hill School students who were costumed as little princesses and pigs. The play's wit and imagination captivated Professor Vogt and gave her a welcome chance to once again create theatre for children. “If it were up to me, all the plays would be comedies, because I love them so much,” she said.

Professor Vogt's vision for “The Enchanted Pig” was inspired by her training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's highly esteemed graduate program in theatre for young audiences and applied drama in the classroom. “The Windy Hill collaboration was initiated because I love creating theatre for and with young audiences,” she said, “and the show was an opportunity for the Child Development majors who participate in the productions to combine their academic interests.”

Earlier in her career, Vogt worked as the assistant director at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, as well as director for other works such as “The Heidi Chronicles” and “Death and the Maiden." Her experience with period pieces allowed her to create a vision for “The Lady of Pleasure” that may not have existed otherwise.

The sense of loss is great for those in the Fine and Performing Art Department and among the many students in Professor Vogt's classes and productions. Although she had worked with them for just a short time, Vogt's great passion and creativity, and her intelligence and sense of humor left a lasting impression.

Jon Keenan, chair and professor of Fine and Performing Arts, says that he and his colleagues are deeply saddened by the news. “Julie was an amazing colleague and teacher who made a big impression on so many people here in her short time with us,” he says. “We will always remember her wonderful laugh and smile, her generosity of spirit, and the joy she found in teaching and in directing students in theatre productions.”

Jean Eckrich, professor of Exercise and Sport Sciences and director of the Teaching Enrichment Center, also feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and get to know Vogt. “Julie contributed greatly to campus-wide discussions on teaching and learning and worked tirelessly to develop programs that would enhance students' learning. She was bright, articulate and a terrific scholar.”

Professor Eckrich says Vogt's energy and enthusiasm were contagious. “Julie was a wonderful colleague who cared about individuals as well as her department and the college. She taught me so much these last few months as she courageously faced this disease with her dignity, humor and appreciation for life.”

Professor Vogt maintained a blog as a way of staying connected to the many people whose lives she touched. In her last entry on her blog on Nov. 12, 2011, she wrote:

Many of you have reached out across thousands of miles, sending memories and happy moments from decades ago. This river of positive thought helps sustain me. Knowing that my life has mattered to you, that this broken body still has dignity and value; this knowledge helps me tolerate the pain and embrace the miracle of each day. The messages matter. You are the supportive web carrying me through the arc of the day.

Julie Vogt is survived by her husband, Todd, and young son, Miles, and the many family members, friends, students and colleagues who loved and admired her. Memorial services have yet to be announced.

-Kimberly Swick Slover, director of Communications, Colby-Sawyer College

Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Learn more about the college's vibrant teaching and learning community at Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000