Steger to step down as director of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film

Paul Steger
Paul Steger

Steger to step down as director of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film

calendar icon06 Oct 2015    

Lincoln, Neb.—Paul Steger announced on Monday that he will be stepping down as Director of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, effective June 30, 2016, and will return to the faculty next Fall.

“I have been honored to serve in this capacity for so many reasons,” Steger said. “But mostly because of a talented and passionate group of faculty, staff, students and colleagues across the college who have challenged and supported efforts to make the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film a premiere training program. I’ve been very fortunate to be an integral part of our efforts to advance our programs and our reputation for innovative ideas, projects and engagement, but also feel it is the right time for me to step down and look forward to being a part of the future of the Johnny Carson School, albeit in a different capacity.”

Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts Endowed Dean Charles O’Connor will be naming an interim director shortly, and a national search for a new director of the Johnny Carson School will also begin soon. O’Connor also plans to hire a new artistic director to guide the development of the new Nebraska Repertory Theatre, which re-launches in the Fall of 2016.

“The Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film is in a better place because of Paul’s leadership,” O’Connor said. “He has taken it to a whole new level since he took over as director of the School in 2005, shortly after Johnny Carson’s initial donation. Under his leadership, the School hired excellent faculty and continues to grow as one of the top training programs for actors, directors, designers and filmmakers in the region. I’m sure the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the Johnny Carson School will join me in thanking Paul for his outstanding leadership over the last decade.”

Under Steger’s direction, the School’s degree programs were re-accredited through the National Association of Schools of Theatre; the Temple Building was renovated to create the Studio Theatre, new scene shop and a renovated lobby area; the innovative Carson Film Series and Carson Lecture Series were both inaugurated; an aggressive guest artist program brought Hollywood professionals, such as Academy Award-winning Editor Mike Hill and Director Donald Petrie, to Lincoln to work with students; and the $2.25 million endowment for the Carson Opportunity Scholarships was established, thanks to additional donations from the John W. Carson Foundation through the University of Nebraska Foundation.

“Paul is an excellent teacher and consummate professional,” O’Connor said. “We could not have asked for anyone better to lead the Carson School. We are fortunate to have him stay on with us.”

Virginia Smith, professor of theatre, said Steger was “in the yoke” with faculty, having previously taught at UNL years before becoming chair in 2005.

“He was a fantastic ‘comrade leader’—a leader we could talk to and who helped us to develop our ideas about how the School should change,” she said. “We are happy for his desire to go back to the classroom, and we are happy he will still be beside us helping us to evolve all of our dreams for the School.”

Steger received his MFA in Directing from Western Illinois University and his Bachelor of Arts in Theatre (Acting/Directing) from St. Louis University. He taught at UNL from 1990-1998. He also taught at the University of Oklahoma, Webster University’s Conservatory, the North Carolina School of the Arts and Florida State University, before returning to UNL in 2005.

He is a member of Actor’s Equity and the Screen Actor’s Guild and has extensive film, television and theatre credits in the Los Angeles area. He has also directed more than 40 productions for the educational and professional theatre including River Stage, Nebraska Theatre Caravan, Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival, and the St. Louis and Nebraska Repertory Theatres. He is a Certified Teacher of Stage Combat and a member of the National Theatre Conference.

“I look forward to teaching acting again next Fall and to direct again,” Steger said. “While being in administration has also been gratifying, I have missed being able to pursue my professional projects and am eager to return to the classroom.”