Kathryn Helene may not have known what to expect when she was hired two years ago by the University. But she knew that whatever would happen, her impact would be dramatic. Since then, she has become the coordinator of Student Performing Arts and virtually a second mother to the dozens of students involved in the dramatic arts at the University. As a result of student lobbying, the administration created her position as a liaison between students working in performing arts and administrators who were sometimes too busy to adequately handle the students' concerns. "My primary role is to be an advocate for the students," Helene said earlier this week. By attending evening Performing Arts Council meetings, conferring with administrators or just talking to students who stop by her Annenberg Center office, Helene works constantly to increase communication between groups that otherwise have little contact. During her two-year tenure, she has been at the forefront of the fight against a space crunch affecting the performing arts community. Through her lobbying, students say, Helene has obtained sorely-needed additional space at such innovative places as the International Movement Theater and the Annenberg Center. Performing Arts Council president Stuart Gibbs said that Helene helps to coordinate logistical problems and has a vital role in dealing with the administration. Her job, however, does not stop with administrative tasks. Helene has become personally involved with the concerns of students in the performing arts community, often referring to them as "her kids," and helping them solve problems on a day-to-day basis. Her office door serves as a message board informing students of audition opportunities, and her office couch is a comfortable meeting place. PAC Executive Secretary David Simon describes Helene as "a good general person." Glee Club Director Bruce Montgomery, who has been affiliated with the performing arts program for over 40, praised Helene, saying she "plays a catalytic role in the performing arts area." Helene, who graduated from the University of Iowa and later received a law degree, has been able to expand her focus beyond the confines of the University. She helped institute a summer internship program which gives a student the invaluable experience of working with a professional theater company. Helene said she enjoys her job and feels good about coming to work each day. She added that one of the most rewarding aspects of the job is the people with whom she has contact. "I am working with and for very creative people," Helene said. "We can find people who get excited about these projects." Gayle Meyers contributed to this story.Comments powered by Disqus
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