About Us

Community Agreements (2022-23)

Agreements – are an aspiration, or collective vision, for how we want to be in relationship with one another to build a strong team and community.  
  1. Use “I” statements – do not generalize or make assumptions about another person’s perspectives/experiences.  
  2. Assume good intent.  
  3. Be present.  
  4. Practice active listening. 
  5. Share time and space equitably.  
  6. Notice your power/privilege. 
  7. Be mindful of differences in lived experiences. 
  8. Engage in conversation from a place of curiosity versus debating or arguing.  
  9. Avoid binary thinking – right or wrong.  
  10. Seek out other perspectives. 
  11. Be open to how your words and actions impact others.  
  12. Come prepared to contribute to gatherings/meetings.  
  13. Respect and recognize different methods of communication. 
Who We Are

In the WSU School of Performing Arts (SPA), we help students turn their passion into a profession. 

Our school values curiosity, inclusivity, creativity, community, courage, and collaboration. We provide incredible performance & design opportunities on the stage, in the classroom, in collaboration with digital media, on film, and in partnership with the community. 

Our Performing Arts Majors engage in one-on-one mentorship, interdisciplinary research & creative opportunities, significant student leadership opportunities in several student-led organizations & productions, work with international and nationally recognized faculty, staff & guest artists, have touring opportunities, and can build their resumes with professional opportunities in the city of Wichita and beyond.

The School of Performing Arts offers degrees with concentrations in: Dance (BA/BFA), Design & Technical Theatre (BFA), Music Theatre (BFA), and Theatre (BA/BFA). We are completely committed to helping students create the career they dream of. To prepare students for 21st century collaborative & portfolio artistic careers, we facilitate an education that includes discipline-specific courses and business for the arts, entrepreneurship, inclusion in performing arts, digital media portfolios, and more. We also offer an incredible & diverse array of certificates to expand career opportunities beyond graduation.

  • Stage Management
  • Commercial Dance
  • Dance & Digital Performance
  • Choreography
  • Directing
  • Voice Acting

If a student wants to expand their interests and career choices further, we strongly support minors and double majors. Ultimately, our goal is to support and help develop each student’s unique talents and interests.

In alignment with the university, the School of Performing Arts highly values applied learning in the classroom, studio, on stage, screen, and other digital forms, in the community, and through site-specific engagement. In addition to studio and curricular showings both on and off campus, the school annually produces plays, a national student playwrighting competition, theatre program films, musicals, dance repertoire concerts, audio shows, black box theatre productions, a new musical incubator program, dance films, and a variety of other projects. We work together to ensure our production/applied learning calendar allows students to participate in a variety of genres/forms.

We highly value our faculty & staff, students, alumni, patrons, and other university & community supporters. Our community impacts & inspires the arts in our city, region, state, and nation.

Strategic Rubric

In January of 2021, the School of Performing Arts began engaging in training and conversations around diversity, equity, inclusion, access, belonging & community building,
The work we are doing along with feedback we have received from working with social justice scholar Charles Anderson and our school Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Alliance, continues to guide our decisions and accountability.
Our continued training & mechanisms for feedback led to the development of a new vision and strategic rubric centered on diversity, equity, inclusion, access & belonging. Our strategic plan continues to guide our decisions & accountability.

Vision: The WSU School of Performing Arts envisions an inclusive world where curiosity, creativity, and collaboration are essential and valued for an engaging career and artistic life.

Mission: The WSU School of Performing Arts guides scholarly and artistic endeavors, supports creativity, and facilitates an education focused on developing sustainable, engaged, and creative citizens.

Values: Community, Creativity, Curiosity, Collaboration, Courage

Strategic Plan Rubric IDEA & Black Lives Matter statement

What is the School of Performing Arts and where did it come from?

More than a 125 years ago, creative artists & teachers were making their way to Wichita and building an artistic community of students, faculty & staff sharing their passion for the arts.  

Here are some key developments along the way

  • (1920's)  Musical productions of operas and operettas combined singers, actors, and dancers in the early days.
  • (1924)  George Wilner arrives and develops a theatre program at Fairmount College.
  • (1930’s) After training on the East coast, Alice and Elizabeth Sherbon return to teach dance at the University of Wichita.
  • (1960)  Richard Welsbacher arrives and guides theatre through the next 30 years.
  • (1963)  WSU Summer Theatre founded and produced plays & musicals for more than 25 years for the Wichita community.
  • (1964)  The university was renamed: Wichita State University.
  • (1978)  1st Bachelor of Fine Arts Dance Degree was developed by Dean Gordon Terwilleger.
  • (1986)  The Theatre program, formerly in the College of Liberal Arts, and the Dance program, formerly in the College of Fine Arts, united to become the The School of Performing Arts within the College of Fine Arts.
  • (1997)  The Musical Theatre Program was created and joined Theater and Dance in the School of Performing Arts.
  • (2011)  The new Welsbacher Theatre was created in the WSU Eugene M. Huges Metropolitan Complex (Metro Plex) to honor Dick Welsbacher.