April 8, 2022

FMU theatre professor to receive Lifetime Service Award

FMU theatre professor to receive Lifetime Service Award

A longtime professor in Francis Marion University’s Fine Arts Department is getting a curtain call.


A. Glen Gourley Jr., who came to FMU in 1985, will receive the South Carolina Theatre Association’s 2022 Lifetime Service Award during a gala at the historic Dock Street Theatre in Charleston on June 25.


The award is presented annually by the SCTA to a person judged to have contributed significantly to theatre in South Carolina during the course of their career. 


“Your long-standing service to the field and an active role in SCTA over time has not gone unnoticed,” SCTA Executive Director Anne Lavely wrote in an email to Gourley informing him of the honor. “Recognizing your contributions to the Association and to theatre in South Carolina is long overdue.”


Gourley said he is touched by the recognition.


“How do I say this when I go back and look at the people who have received this before me?” he said. “It’s humbling.”


“We are so proud of Glen and all he has accomplished during the course of his career, especially here at Francis Marion University,” said Dr. Fred Carter, president of FMU. “The impact that Glen has had on his students and the theatre community across the southeast has been truly remarkable. This recognition is richly deserved and we couldn’t be happier for him.”


Gourley grew up in Sweetwater, Tennessee and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Montevallo in Alabama. While he studied both acting and directing, Gourley chose directing when he headed to the University of Mississippi for a master’s degree.


“I love telling other people what to do,” Gourley joked. “I do truly enjoy acting, but I love directing.”


Professor Keith Best, chairman of FMU’s Department of Fine Arts and winner of SCTA’s Lifetime Service Award in 2017, said Gourley’s passion for theatre – especially musical theater – is evident by his continuing commitment to the craft.


“If not directing, he is willing to work backstage just as hard as he is on stage, so he has been involved in costumes at Florence Little Theatre,” Best said. “He’s worked backstage, props there. He’s house manager here for most of the shows. … He loves it so much. He’s involved at every level. He’s done great work.”


Best nominated Gourley for the Lifetime Service Award, and wrote that Gourley”has been a mainstay of South Carolina since he arrived in the state to begin his teaching career. His teaching and directing at Francis Marion University alone is exceptional, but his service record contains many more accomplishments.”


Gourley has served as the president of the SCTA and the Southeastern Theatre Conference. He was named FMU’s Distinguished Professor in 2007 and serves as the chairman of the university’s faculty senate.