Two St. Olaf faculty members named to endowed chairs
Two St. Olaf College faculty members have been appointed to endowed chairs recently established with the support of gifts from alumnus Steven Fox ’77.
Professor of Theater Karen Peterson Wilson ’77 has been named to the Patrick J. Quade Endowed Chair in Theater and Associate Professor of Music Christopher Aspaas ’95 has been named to the Robert Scholz Endowed Chair in Music.
Fox established the two endowed chairs with gifts that will, through the Strategic Initiative Match, result in a $3 million commitment to support distinguished teaching. The Strategic Initiative Match is a St. Olaf Board of Regents program that provides matching funds for gifts above $50,000 that support the college’s strategic plan.
Aspaas joined the St. Olaf faculty in 2005 after earning his Ph.D. in choral music education from Florida State University, his M.M. in choral conducting from Michigan State University, and his B.M. in voice performance from St. Olaf.
He conducts the Viking Chorus, a 90-voice ensemble of first-year student men, and also leads the St. Olaf Chapel Choir, a 100-voice ensemble specializing in the performance of oratorio and larger multi-movement works.
In addition to conducting, Aspaas leads coursework in choral literature, choral conducting, and private applied voice. His travels as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator have taken him around the world. Aspaas is also active as a tenor soloist and has performed solo roles with a variety of orchestras, including the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic in Russia.
Scholz, a 1961 St. Olaf graduate, served on the college’s music faculty for nearly four decades before retiring in 2005. He led the Chapel Choir, Viking Chorus, Campus Choir (now Cantorei), and Chamber Choir in addition to teaching voice, choral conducting, and choral literature. In addition to his academic work, Scholz helped found the St. Olaf Summer Music Camp and assisted in planning the St. Olaf Christmas Festival. In 1995 Scholz received the F. Melius Christiansen Award for outstanding contributions to choral music from the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota.
Wilson earned her Ph.D. in theater at the University of Minnesota, garnering distinctions in philosophy of theater, acting, playwriting, and dramatic theory. She also holds a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf.
Since joining the St. Olaf faculty in 1979, Wilson has directed more than 30 productions and has developed more than 15 new courses, including an innovative class titled Who Owns the Arts? Censorship, Sponsorship, and Artistic Freedom. She was also instrumental in the establishment of the Minnesota Playwrights’ Center’s New Plays on Campus program, which brings emerging playwrights to colleges and universities across the country for full-scale productions of their scripts. She has directed four productions that she discovered through the program.
Quade, a 1965 St. Olaf graduate, served on the college’s theater faculty for nearly three decades and directed International and Off-Campus Studies for nearly a decade before retiring in 2005. He taught more than 20 different courses in theater and communication and directed more than 70 theater productions. His production of Godspell was a national winner in the American College Theater Festival.
In addition, Quade founded the St. Olaf Children’s Theater Institute, implemented a Fine Arts Elementary Education Program for public schools, and created a workshop that helps elementary and high school instructors teach writing.