The Richard B. Sessoms Visiting Artists Fund

"Mrs. Warren’s Profession" was the first production at the Lenfest Center for the Arts to receive an exciting new endowment: the Richard B. Sessoms Visiting Artists Fund in Theater. Provided by Claire and Dwight Emanuelson ’84, this permanently endowed fund provides support for a visiting artist every other year in the Department of Theater and Dance. While in residence, the guest artist, chosen by Owen Collins, the Department head, in consultation with the Dean of the College, will work with department faculty and students to enhance their expertise in a Theater Department course and production. The first Sessoms Visiting Artist is Grant Aleksander ’12, an accomplished actor and 2012 graduate of Washington and Lee University. While the public will most likely remember him as Phillip Spaulding on daytime's Guiding Light, he returns to the W&L Keller stage as Sir George Crofts, a foil to both Kitty and Vivie Warren, and will lend his knowledge as dialect and acting coach.

Endowment Description

The Richard B. Sessoms Visiting Artists Fund in Theater is a permanently endowed fund established by Claire and Dwight Emanuelson '84 at Washington and Lee University providing support for a visiting artist, every other year, in the Department of Theater and Dance. While in residence this guest artist will work with department faculty and students and will contribute their expertise in a Theater-department course and production. The fund will be administered by the department chair in consultation with the Dean of the College.

History

The Richard B. Sessoms Visiting Artists Fund in Theater was established by Dwight H. Emanuelson and his wife, Claire Emanuelson, in October, 2011, to honor their friend, Dick Sessoms, for his outstanding service to Washington and Lee from 1980 to 2004. Emanuelson, a member of the University's Board of Trustees, has been a generous donor and active volunteer leader since graduating from W&L in 1984. Mr. and Mrs. Emanuelson have established The Richard B. Sessoms Visiting Artists Fund in Theater to recognize the accomplishments of Dick Sessoms during his service to W&L as associate director of development, director of alumni programs, and senior director of major gifts. In these roles Sessoms was admired by alumni, parents and students and known for his good cheer, wit, and tireless efforts on behalf of the University. Sessoms was so highly-regarded within the W&L community that in 1990 he became only the second person ever to be named an Honorary Alumnus by the W&L Alumni Association. The establishment of the Richard B. Sessoms Visiting Artists Fund in Theater also recognizes Sessoms' love of music and theater performance. Throughout his career at W&L and since his retirement in 2004, he has enjoyed working with faculty and students on numerous theater productions and continues to play guitar and sing with local bluegrass musicians and with the band 'Alone Mill'.