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Chair's message to Patty Hawkins

Faculty of Arts


On hearing of Patty Hawkins' retirement, Tim Babcock, Chair of the Department of Theatre and Chair, shared the following about the Department's longtime staff member, her role with their Department from it's time as a program within the Department of English, though its inception as a stand-alone department and it's development as the highly regarded program it has become.

When Patty started, we were a relatively new program in Theatre and Drama born out of the English Department, with barely 300 students tucked away in Ashdown and Bryce Hall and a converted performance space in the old Convocation Hall. In a way, she was actually hired by English with us as a kind of add-on responsibility. We offered BA studies primarily in performance but soon we grew multiple streams of study beyond acting, added the highly successful Honours program, partnered with the Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers to spawn our Dance program and finally branched out into Film. With increasingly complexity and numerous programs came the need for more targeted advising and Patty became our dedicated advisor for the department and a guide and counselor for the vast majority of our students from their first theatre course on up. In this role, she has truly been the face of the department for new and prospective students over the past two decades.

With a new facility, we relocated to a dedicated building in 1999 and she was faced with a choice of working for English or Theatre; I think she felt that we needed more of her help. In any case, she chose us and the new space forced us to take on most of the responsibilities for managing our own facility. As part of a team that included the Chair and Production Manager, she oversaw many of the challenges we faced in developing security procedures, managing student room bookings for rehearsals, and challenging maintenance issues. The expanded development of the new theatre as a community resources, as well as a teaching space, only added to her responsibilities in dealing with outside users of our facilities.

This is just a bit of what she has done for us and says nothing of the administrative support she has provided for our productions and the expanded classroom presentations and recruitment activities, all in addition to the regular academic demands of a department that has tripled in registration. Through it all she has maintained her high standards in reporting and communications and has developed a University-wide reputation for meticulous attention to detail and systems development. Alas, at times this has meant that we have had to lend her out to various developing projects; such as the new student planning module development, consultations on new scheduling software and operations, and a Vice Presidential advising committee.

As many already know, Patty will be retiring shortly much to the chagrin of all who have known her in the department - staff, faculty and students alike. No matter how much she deserves the more restful times ahead, her retirement will be a loss for the department, our students and for the University - she will be truly difficult to replace. Nevertheless, for me the loss will be most keenly felt on a personal level. I have worked closely with Patty as a faculty member, Production Manager, and Chair for her entire time here and I will miss her most acutely as the friend and colleague that I have worked with on a daily basis since she started here. I will miss our conversations, our disagreements, our shared successes, and the active friendship I have enjoyed and respected for all of that time. I wish her nothing but the best.

Tim Babcock
Chair, Department of Theatre and Film