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The University of Alabama

UA Theatre Professor Selected as SEC Faculty Achievement Award Winner

Seth Panitch, professor of theatre

Seth Panitch, professor of theatre

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Southeastern Conference officials announced Wednesday that Seth Panitch, professor of theatre, was chosen as the 2016 SEC Faculty Achievement Award winner for The University of Alabama.

Panitch, who also serves as director of MFA and Undergraduate Acting Programs at UA, said he is both supremely humbled and honored to receive the award and to represent the University. He is one of only 14 professors across the SEC to be selected for the honor.

“As everything we do in the performing arts is collaborative, I am well aware this award also celebrates the faculty, support staff and, most of all, the students of our department who have fueled and challenged me in the most rewarding of ways,” he said. “I consider myself beyond fortunate to have such a seemingly endless supply of daily inspiration.”

Since 2012, the SEC has honored faculty at universities within the conference for their academic achievements in research and scholarship.

To be eligible for the award, faculty within the SEC have to have achieved the rank of full professor, have a record of extraordinary teaching and have a record of scholarship that’s nationally or internationally recognized.

Panitch’s research and work in the field includes being a professor, actor, director and playwright. He’s directed five international stage productions in Cuba, four off-Broadway shows in New York City, five regional theater productions, a feature film and numerous university productions. He’s also written international, off-Broadway and regional productions as well as several feature films.

In 2008, Panitch became the first U.S. director to helm a professional production in Cuba in nearly 50 years when he was invited by the Cuban Ministry of Culture to direct Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” at the Adolfo Llaurado Theatre.

“The SEC Faculty Achievement Awards provide a unique opportunity for our conference to recognize the work of world renowned faculty members from each of our 14 universities,” said Nicholas S. Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University and president of the SEC. “This year’s winners represent some of the brightest and most accomplished individuals in their disciplines, and I offer each of them my sincerest congratulations.”

All 14 SEC Faculty Achievement Award winners will receive a $5,000 honorarium and become their university’s nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year Award, which is the overall winner and will be announced in April. The SEC Professor of the Year Award winner will receive an additional $15,000 honorarium and will be recognized at the annual SEC awards dinner.

The other 13 winners are:

  • University of Arkansas, Dr. Rodolfo Nayga Jr., professor and Tyson Chair in Food Policy Economics
  • Auburn University, Dr. Hanqin Tian, Solon and Martha Dixon Endowed Professor
  • University of Florida, Dr. Jose Principe, distinguished professor of electrical engineering
  • University of Georgia, Dr. Milton Masciadri, distinguished university professor of music
  • University of Kentucky, Dr. W. Brent Seales, professor of computer science
  • Louisiana State University, Dr. Isiah Warner, Boyd Professor of LSU System
  • University of Mississippi, Dr. Joey Granger, Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor
  • Mississippi State University, T. Brent Funderburk, William L. Giles Distinguished Professor
  • University of Missouri, Dr. Glen Cameron, professor of journalism
  • University of South Carolina, Dr. Claudia Benitez‐Nelson, College of Arts and Sciences distinguished professor
  • University of Tennessee, Dr. Susan Riechert, distinguished service professor
  • Texas A&M University, Dr. Rafael Lara‐Alecio, Regents Professor of Educational Psychology
  • Vanderbilt University, Dr. Sankaran Mahadevan, John R. Murray, Sr., Professor of Engineering

UA’s theatre and dance department, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, became a unified department in 1979. For the past 34 years, the department has produced student and faculty directed, performed and designed work. The department cultivates the next generation of performing arts professionals through comprehensive undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Visit

About SECU
The Southeastern Conference sponsors, supports and promotes collaborative higher education programs and activities involving administrators, faculty and students at its fourteen member universities. The goals of the SECU academic initiative include highlighting the endeavors and achievements of SEC faculty and universities; advancing the merit and reputation of SEC universities outside of the traditional SEC region; identifying and preparing future leaders for high‐level service in academia; increasing the amount and type of education abroad opportunities available to SEC students; and providing opportunities for collaboration among SEC university personnel. To connect with SECU online –; on Facebook – TheSECU; on Twitter – @TheSECU; on Instagram – @TheSECUniversity; and on YouTube – SECUniversity.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.