July 24, 2023

Margaret MitchellMargaret Mitchell

Scenery and costume designer, writer, professor, mentor, colleague and friend are just a few of the roles that Margaret Mitchell played at UIW over the course of her 31-year tenure. As Christopher McCollum, senior instructor of Theatre Arts shared, “She leaves not only a powerful legacy, but also an empty space that is daunting to try to offset.”

Sr. Germaine Corbin, CCVI, first met Mitchell in 1992 when they both became full-time faculty members in the theatre department. Corbin shared, “Margaret has been a gift to the University and really embraced the Mission of UIW totally. One example of that was shown when COVID-19 hit. Mitchell and her staff began making masks for people. She worked closely with one of our Sisters (of Charity of the Incarnate Word) who also worked with immigrants and helped get them COVID masks.” As Corbin reflected on their years together, she noted, “I realize how talented and creative Margaret Mitchell is. She has an international as well as national reputation for her designs in costume and has written about the history of costume design.”

McCollum had the pleasure of working with Mitchell for eight years and saw firsthand the significant impact she had on the lives of her students, the department, and the entire University over the course of her extensive career. McCollum shared another impactful story of Mitchell’s compassion during COVID-19. While students were online in theatre Zoom sessions, she recognized through conversations the profound and deep impact the issues of social change and justice were having on their emotional well-being. She realized that they were hungry for a classroom experience that offered context and guidance. As a result, she took it upon herself to create a new course for the following fall semester. Mitchell’s new course, Theatre for Social Change, launched in a hybrid format. McCollum said, “The course was a resounding success and was so popular (and needed) that she taught it again her final semester this past spring; something that the department hopes to continue offering moving forward.”

Photo: Costume Design by Margaret Mitchell and Nikki Hernandez; Set Design by Christopher McCollum; Directed by Mark Stringham; Photography by Candice Stringham.

When asked if Mitchell had a favorite quote, McCollum reflected that it was one she learned from mentor Sr. Germaine Corbin. When receiving any constructive criticism, the students were expected to respond with, “Thank you for your correction, please continue your interest in me.”

Mitchell has done just that for her students. Her interest is reflected in the legacy she has left, including the final production of the 2022-2023 school year, which she wrote for her students. The Reluctant Dragon, by Mitchell, was directed by Mark Stringham. In this beloved classic story, a young boy befriends a poetry-loving dragon living in the Downs above his home. When the townsfolk send for St. George to slay the dragon, the boy needs to produce a clever plan to save his friend and convince the townsfolk to accept him. During this show, colleagues and students alike found a moment to celebrate Mitchell and all that she has done for UIW.

We thank her for her years of service, her legacy, and for her “continued interest” in the UIW family.