Thoughts from Mark Shanda, USITT President

Right this minute, the NEXT line on my Outlook e-mail screen reads: “No more events for today or tomorrow.” This is a clear indication that our school year has come to an end, graduation is just around the corner, and soon, summer will begin. Despite this being my first summer at this new job, I am only confident of one certainty: I will now have a parking space near my building every morning when I come in to work.

Such a screen message is highly unusual. If one were to look back over the previous week or even to the week ahead, the majority of the time blocks on the calendar are filled, but for the balance of this Friday that I am writing this column and for all day Saturday, nothing appears. (Students are supposed to be studying for final exams and as a result, no concerts, recitals, or productions are scheduled.)

However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t face any time demands. My “to-do” list remains robust. With immediate, short-term, and long-term projects that relate to my home (mow the lawn), in-process projects (employment contract approvals), USITT demands (writing my second-to-last article as President), and my funding commitment summary (I am a Dean, after all), are all listed. But I have a choice as to how to focus my efforts and catch my breath, and that feels glorious.

To many of our members, the transition from spring to summer may mean the shift from mainstage season to summer stock. For others, it may mean the wind up for the end of the fiscal year sales and inventory control. And for others, it may mean the end of one job and moving onto another. The month of May reflects a change in season as well, where hope springs eternal for comfortable weather for outdoor activities, an explosion of flowers brightens the landscape, and students graduate from their schooling.

In the Institute, the month of May marks the final board meeting of this fiscal year and my final meeting as your President. In addition to the May 17 “electronic” board meeting, officers with direct Conference & Stage Expo responsibilities will be gathering in Syracuse with some of our commissioners to work toward improved communication, better operational practices, and enhanced year-round programming to better serve our members. Better serving our members remains the mantra that all of us involved in the leadership of the Institute use to guide our choices. As one outside consultant once declared, “USITT is of the members, by the members, and for the members.”

We strive not only to serve you, but to present you all with opportunities to be engaged, to become better educated, and to improve your own work situation where ever you may be. USITT serves our members and as long as we keep our focus on that, we will continue to make this a better and stronger organization.