West bids fond farewell to Monmouth
April 20, 2012
“She took one look at me and handed me a theater interest sheet, saying ‘You’re going to need this,’” said sophomore Merissa Lewiston about when she first met theater assistant professor Janeve West at an open house. “West is one of the reasons I attended Monmouth College in the first place. It’s still strange to think that she won’t be around next semester.”
Lewiston echoes the feelings of many students as West, after teaching theater classes and assisting with multiple theater productions for six years, finishes her final semester at Monmouth College to take on a teaching position at Cornell College, in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
West described the decision to leave Monmouth for Cornell as very difficult.
“My family and I spent a long time thinking and meditating on this,” said West. “I just made tenure. It’s bittersweet, because it’s a great job, but I’m really going to miss the kids here.”
West, who had always wanted to work with undergraduates with acting and director, claims that meeting with several students when she first heard of a teaching opportunity at Monmouth College is what convinced her to apply for the job.
“I had some great meetings with some students and I was just taken in by their energy and enthusiasm,” West said. “It was the students that sold me on it, and they will be the hardest to leave.”
As one of the three professors in the theater department, West has taken on numerous advisees, many of them pursuing a theater education major, like junior Mary Bohlander.
“She has been the most influential person on this campus to me,” said Bohlander, a theater major seeking certification in secondary education. “She’s helped me create my major, and has challenged me academically in a way that no one else has. She’s someone I can always confide in, so as happy as I am for her about this wonderful opportunity, I’m really going to miss her.”
She has also directed and held various advising positions on most of the college’s theater productions, including “Waiting for Godot,” “The Tempest” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
For West, keeping students involved in the creative process for each production was crucial, as well as not exclusively casting theater majors in stage parts.
“For ‘Sweeney Todd,’ we had a senior theater major playing the lead male role and a freshman political-science major in the lead female role,” West said. “I was extra proud that we had a combination of majors and minors on stage. I hope that the students feel they are part of the collaborative process.”
While West begins her new position at Cornell in the fall, she hopes that the Monmouth College theater program will continue to grow and be an integral part of the liberal arts education, as well as challenging students.
“I hope that the students will continue to demand high quality, like in Crimson Masque’s motto of ‘Expect Excellence,’” West said. “Not just expect it, but demand it.”
Plans to fill West’s position are tentative, according to theater department chair William Wallace, but currently the administration is viewing applicants to fill a 1-year fill position.