Richard (Dick) Welsbacher
Dr. Richard Welsbacher is the namesake of Welsbacher Theater, WSU’s experimental theater located in the WSU Metroplex. He began his involvement with WSU in 1958. Two years later, he was appointed director of theatre. When theatre and dance were combined into the School of Performing Arts in 1987, Welsbacher was appointed Chair of the School. He continued to expand the program until he retired in 1991. During his thirty-year tenure as director of theatre, he directed more than 150 productions and performed more than 200 roles.
Dick, as his friends and students called him, was a Lieutenant junior grade in the Navy during World War II. After the war he received his B.A. In theatre from Denison University, then his M.A. in Theatre from the University of Denver. At that time he and his wife Betty toured the US for two years in a program called America in Story and Song.
Dick accepted a position at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. It was there that he discovered what he wanted to do with his life - teach. To facilitate that, he went to Ohio State for his Ph.D., after which he and his wife accepted positions at the University of Wichita, soon to be Wichita State. As chair, he developed the academic program and increased productions on the Main Stage and the Experimental Stage. He also developed the Readers Theatre program and a Summer Theatre with a repertoire each summer of six productions.
While he has accumulated numerous honors over the years, his proudest accomplishment was that of being a teacher. Students under his tutelage have gone on to careers in stage, film, and television, and over the years they have garnered multiple nominations and prestigious awards in all three areas. Returning alumni speak most highly of the level of professional habits he instilled in them as well as the many traditions he established, such as his annual reading of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales during the holiday season.