Theatre Department Wins Award for Its Perseverance During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Wren Barnes
Director of Marketing & Communications

April 6, 2021

Theatre Department Wins Award for Its Perseverance During COVID-19 Pandemic
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education selects Red Rocks Community College for the Bernice Joseph Award

LAKEWOOD, CO – Last month, Red Rocks Community College (RRCC) was named the winner of the 2021 Bernice Joseph award by the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders (the Alliance) for its inventive and creative plan for how a Spring 2020 theatre history class would respond to a theater closure during a pandemic as artistic directors/producers. The Alliance created the Award to recognize problem-solving and innovation among community colleges in the western United States while honoring Bernice Joseph, an influential University of Alaska educator who passed away in 2014.

Founded in 2010, the Alliance is a membership organization based at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE); one of four U.S. higher education regional compacts established by Congress in 1953. In receiving the Bernice Joseph award, RRCC’s theatre department gains broad recognition among the Alliance member institutions located in the WICHE region encompassing 16 state and territorial members for what became their ‘Ghost Light Theater’ 2020 summer project.

Dorothy Welty, RRCC Dean of Instruction, submitted “Building Bridges in the Dark: Actions that Held Together a Theater Department in a Pandemic” to the Alliance after seeing Kelly Jo Eldredge, Department Chair of Theatre Arts and Dance, empower her students to translate their vision into action in their very own project. “Congratulations to Kelly Jo, her instructional team and all the RRCC theatre students,” said Welty. “They persevered through the pandemic and used the new reality as a problem-based learning opportunity that challenged their growth as creative artists and teachers.”

Welty and Eldredge accepted the award on behalf of RRCC and the announcement will be made at the Forum and Alliance 2020-21 Virtual Meeting Series on April 9th at 12:00 MDT. "We were so thrilled when we heard Dorothy had submitted our department for this award,” said Eldredge. “Dorothy is always such a champion of the work we do in Theatre Arts and Dance. This past year has been an incredible and creative learning experience for both students and staff in the department. Our students deserve all the credit for coming up with fantastic ideas and carrying them through to production."

About RRCC Theatre Arts and Dance Program:
Red Rocks Community College has the only fully developed two-year Theatre Arts program in performance, production, and theatre technology in Colorado. The program offers courses leading to an Associate of Arts in Theatre Arts and an Associate of Applied Science in Theatre Technology. It also offers unique certificates in technical theatre, costuming, stage makeup, choreography, musical theatre, and writing for the stage and screen. In addition, the Theatre Arts and Dance Department engages in numerous partnership projects, both on campus and within the community. For more information, contact department chair Kelly Jo Eldredge at

About the Alliance:
The Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders (the Alliance) is a membership network that offers academic leaders at community colleges, technical schools, systems, and associated state governing and coordinating boards the opportunity to exchange ideas and information, share resources and expertise, and collaborate on regional initiatives. This dynamic network allows these academic leaders—representing nearly one-quarter of the nation’s two-year institutions—to build stronger higher education institutions in the West. To learn more:

About WICHE:
Since 1953, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has been strengthening higher education, workforce development, and behavioral health throughout the region. As an interstate compact, WICHE partners with states, territories, and postsecondary institutions to share knowledge, create resources, and develop innovative solutions that address some of our society’s most pressing needs. From promoting high-quality, affordable postsecondary education to helping states get the most from their technology investments and addressing behavioral health challenges, WICHE improves lives across the West through innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy. To learn more:

More about Red Rocks Community College: 
Established in 1969, Red Rocks Community College delivers high-quality, affordable education programs leading to two-year degrees or professional certificates. The college serves over 13,000 students per year online and at campus locations in Lakewood and Arvada.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021