Hegarty Award Citation for Professor Patricia H. Sankus
Stonehill College is proud to bestow the Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching on Professor Patricia H. Sankus.
The Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching is given each year to a full-time faculty member whose teaching has had a marked influence on the lives of Stonehill students. The Committee on Excellence in Teaching, representing Students, Faculty, and the Alumni Council, selects the outstanding teacher from those nominated by students and faculty members. The award is named in honor of one of Stonehill’s most accomplished teachers and the recipient stands as a symbol of the entire faculty’s commitment to teaching and academic excellence. At this 2006 Academic Convocation, Stonehill College is proud to bestow the Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching on Professor Patricia H. Sankus.
Professor Sankus has been unwavering in her commitment to Stonehill’s mission, and this is abundantly clear in the words of those who nominated her.
Dr. Sankus teaches with unmatchable energy and motivates her students to do their very best. She teaches for the students and matches her passion for the stage with her passion for the classroom.
I first encountered Professor Sankus my freshman year while visiting her Directing class. A friend enrolled in Directing needed a “body” to act out the scene in class. Professor Sankus impressed me as she brought brilliant and inventive ideas to my friend’s version of the short scene, while never telling him that one way or the other was right or wrong. She promotes critical thought in her students’ directing choices, requests explanations of their goals, and offers them new directing ideas to consider.
To say that Professor Sankus commits herself, both inside and outside the classroom, to upholding rigorous standards of excellence would be a gross understatement. The sacrifice of blood, sweat and tears better describes what it is like to work with Pat. She is, to say the least, not easy to impress, but she makes you want to impress her. She demands the best from us, and then she asks for more. But I have never been more motivated to excel and exceed my own expectations for myself than when I have been under Pat’s direction.
Patricia’s approach requires a lot of individual attention beyond rehearsals. She provides this same method when taking on the Producer role for a Guest Director. When a student is nominated to compete for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, as part of the American College Theatre Festival, Pat will give up time during the semester to prepare the student. If a production is selected to compete on the semi-final level for this same festival, Pat again
devotes the time to regain the finish that the production originally achieved.
I think the best way to illustrate Pat’s magic is through an anecdote. Two years ago, before I had taken any acting classes, I volunteered as an actor/model for Prof. Sankus’ directing class. As a nervous little freshman on the first day of class, I was very worried about screwing up. Now, what you must know about me is that I am shy and conservative, and I’m not always very comfortable in my small body: I have a tendency to slump my shoulders, and as far as stage presence, I can appear weak and awkward. Basically, I don’t exude confidence, so I do not ever prance around like your sex goddess. Unfortunately, the day’s lesson was demonstrating techniques of directing characters in Aristophanes’ raunchy comedy, Lysistrata. In the play, these women, who tantalize and tease their husbands and refuse to have sex with them, embody sex, power, and confidence. When Pat gave me instructions about how I should enter the scene, I thought, “I could never do that.” When she yelled backstage to me “If you don’t do it loud enough and big enough, I’m going to make you keep doing it until you get it right!”—I wanted to run from the theatre. But when Pat said “go,” I did. I ran full-speed onstage, slammed myself against the scene wall, making the loudest crash I could—as she had instructed. I then proceeded to throw myself against the arches of the scenery, spreading my arms and body along the wall. Pat yelled: “Now thrust your hips out . . . farther! . . .and push out your chest . . . more! . . . and keep thrusting until I say stop!” And so I thrust and I thrust until somewhat miraculously I became the ancient Greek sex symbol Lysistrata. Yes, I was embarrassed after this incident, but I also felt triumphant. Professor Sankus takes the mental blocks we have about ourselves and breaks them down. She sees how far we are willing to push ourselves and convinces us to go much, much farther.
I’ve been pushed, challenged and criticized and I’ve had to stay in the Hemingway Theatre until three in the morning. And I’ve loved every minute of it. Explaining Patricia Sankus in just a few paragraphs is nearly impossible. I’m recommending her for this award because she is a phenomenal teacher who makes her subject spring to life . . . and because this woman, who is a legend in our small theatre community, is a Stonehill gem, hidden away in the basement of Duffy.
And so with deep pride we today recognize Professor Patricia H. Sankus for exemplifying Stonehill’s commitment to academic excellence.
Given this thirty-first day of August,
Two thousand and six.
Rev. Mark T. Cregan, C.S.C.