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For the Record

Jack Schmidt, right, was given one of USITT's premiere honors in Toronto when he was named a USITT Fellow. Van Phillips, who introduced Mr. Schmidt, helped keep the secret which surrounds the induction of Fellows until their names are announced as part of the Fellows Address at the USITT Annual Conference.

Photo/Casey Kearns

Remarks by Van Phillips
USITT Fellow


Schmidt Inducted as
UISTT Fellow

Good evening!

Before I introduce the USITT's newest Fellow, I would like to ask the assembled USITT members and guests to take a few moments to reflect.

In 1977, USITT introduced the first Fellows Awards at that year's annual conference. In creating the distinction of Fellow of the Institute, I believe, and I think the people standing behind me would agree, that USITT created the Fellow as its highest award.

Why is this the highest award? Simply put it is the only award given by USITT that demands both outstanding professional achievement in theatre and dedicated service to the Institute.

As we have just heard in his introduction, Richard Pilbrow received the USITT Award for his achievement and professional career in theatre. But, it was later that he became a Fellow. There are many, likewise, that have worked tirelessly for the USITT and for their efforts they are given the Founders Award.

Now after 29 years (soon to be 30) of all of the Institute's awards, most of us believe the greatest honor is to be made a Fellow. We also hope that all of the members of USITT will ultimately aspire to membership as Fellows.

So without further ado, I would like to introduce the USITT Fellow for 2005. As I tell you a little about his background, see if you don't agree that this individual is truly outstanding in both his achievement in theatre and his dedicated efforts for the USITT.

I think our newest Fellow has an idea he is about to become a member. When I contacted his wife about tonight's induction, she told me he wasn't good at surprises. In fact, she said he got mad at another person for surprising him with an award. So I told her to simply tell him Van had called and told her to come along to this year's USITT Conference. She told me later that Sherlock was getting very suspicious.

This year's Fellow graduated with a bachelor's degree and in 1970 received his master's degree, both in technical theatre. (Oh boy, Will Bellman! Another technician.)

He served as technical director for theatres in Omaha for five years and another five years as production manager and designer for the Omaha Ballet. During this period he was the assistant lighting designer for Opera Omaha, and for several years he was a freelance lighting designer and technical director for touring ballet productions and the national concert tours of C.W. McCall. He also served as the production coordinator/lighting director for KETV, Channel 7. And, he is a card carrying member of the stagehands union, IATSE.

In 1985, 20 years ago, this gentleman joined Strong International as a product manager responsible for product development and sales of its Followspot Division. And, for those 20 years he has become known to most of us as Mr. Spotlight !

During his years with Strong, our new Fellow served the USITT in several capacities.

He has served as a member of the Institute's Board of Directors. He has served on the Nominations Committee, the Awards Committee, and the Conference Policy Committee. He has served on the Exhibitor's Committee.

He has been the manufacturer director (representing manufacturer members) of the Entertainment Services & Technology Association (ESTA) while serving as liaison to the USITT board and serving on various committees. And, what he is even too modest to put on his resume, he has been active with the New Products Expo and on setting lighting and followspot standards and safety within all his committee work for both USITT and ESTA.

For those of you who attended the LDI Conference in Las Vegas last November, you might remember the awards and product expo that was set up behind the conference center. Our new Fellow was up until 3:30 in the morning the night before making sure that the evening's staging was working perfectly. So, he doesn't just talk about it, he does it as well. (Yes, Will Bellman another TD makes good!)

In addition to all this, tonight's Fellow has been active in a reenactment group portraying the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the Boy Scouts of America. He has been so involved with Scouting that he was District Scouter of the Year in 1998. It was that Scouting award where he got mad at the person who had attempted to surprise him.

I don't want him to be angry with us, so I would like to introduce Mr. Jack Schmidt as this year's USITT Fellow. Jack would you please bring your wife Barbara to the stage? We have a little induction to perform.

Jack Schmidt: I'm humbled! I truly am!

You know we work in a business that makes temporary things. Much of our work is of the moment. Then it is gone. But, what we are part of - while it can have the quiet beat of a butterfly's wings - it can often have the impact of a sledgehammer.

Keep it up!

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