Dr. Herman David Middleton, Senior, died April 12.
In 1956, Middleton came to Woman’s College to serve as head of the Theatre Department, a post he occupied for two decades. He had previously served in the U.S. Navy, earning a BS and MA from Columbia University, and a Ph.D from the University of Florida.
Middleton had a remarkable impact on the department. He expanded programs and curriculum, hired new faculty, and built a strong regional reputation for the University. The department became known as the Department Drama and Speech with the inclusion of formal studies in communication, and in 1970, BFA degrees in acting as well as design and technical theater, and MFA degrees in acting/directing and design were added.
Middleton directed the first Broadway-style musical at UNCG in 1957 (“Oklahoma!”). He hired Tom Behm to develop the North Carolina Theatre for Young People in 1972 and directed the first children’s theater production. He also directed a production of “The Orestia” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, as part of the 1974 American College Theatre Festival. In the mid-sixties, Middleton facilitated extended residencies for the National Repertory Theatre on campus. He also played a strong role in the initiation of the North Carolina Theatre Conference and the Southeastern Theatre Conference.
“Herman was a trailblazer,” said Robert Hansen, a colleague of Middleton’s who also served as head of the Department of Communication in Theatre. “He always aimed high, raising the prominence and quality of theater at the University, in Greensboro, the State, and across Southeast region of the country.”
Middleton retired from UNCG in 1990, but remained active in state and regional professional organizations, the community, and the department.
To honor his memory, donations can be made to the Herman Middleton Scholarship Endowment. Checks should be made out to UNCG (indicate Herman Middleton Endowment on check). Send to: Advancement Services, P.O. Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402. Friends may also go here to make a gift by credit card (scroll to Memorial Gift Information).