About the School

Our Mission continues

The School of Performing Arts supports student creators, guides scholarly and artistic endeavors and facilitates an education focused on developing sustainable and engaged creative citizens. 

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 combining singers, actors and dancers produced operas & operettas in the early days.
• 1924 George Wilner arrives & develops a theatre program at Fairmount College
• 1930’s  After training on East coast, Alice and Elizabeth Sherbon return to teach dance  at University of Wichita 
• 1960 Richard Welsbacher arrives and guides theatre through 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 Terwiliger
• 1986 the School of Performing Arts is formed as the Theatre program moved from College of Liberal Arts to joining Dance in the  College of Fine Arts 
• 1997 Musical Theatre Degree created and joined Theater & Dance in School of Performing Arts
• 2011 new Welsbacher Theatre was created in MetroPlex honoring Dick Welsbacher

So here we are in 2021,  welcoming a new class of students pursing their passions and creativity as they embark on their college eduction.  The options for today’s students may be more diverse in many ways but are still connected to the universal need to express emotion and tell today’s stories.  Check out our website to find out more about all the opportunities for you to explore.  We hope to see you on campus soon.  There’s still “magic to do”.

Linda Starkey
Director, School of Performing Arts