North Central University has recognized two faculty members as winners of the as 2021 Dr. Gordon Anderson Faculty Award for Excellence. The annual award was established by a friend of the university in 2019 to honor Anderson’s legacy and passion for faculty excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. The awards were announced at spring commencement exercises on April 30.
Assistant Professor Wayne Matthews ’03, M.A., (Fine Arts/Theatre) received the award in the 10+ years of service category, and Assistant Professor Regina Daniels, M.A., (Arts and Sciences/Carlstrom-ASL Interpreting) was selected for the award in the 1–9 years of service category.
About Wayne Matthews
Matthews joined North Central full time in 2011. He teaches and oversees all of the Theatre Arts curricula and serves as director for the majority of NCU Theatre productions. He came to NCU as a student to pursue a second career after nearly three decades in full-time ministry. Along with his wife, Peggy, he served for over 26 years in Colorado and Minnesota as both Senior and Associate Pastors. He served as Associate Pastor at Word of Life Church in Plymouth and Maple Grove Minnesota from 1996 to 2004. He began writing and performing biblical monologues in 1992 and has directed adult and children’s plays and musicals for over 30 years.
Students who nominated Matthews for this award had high praise for the impact he has had on their education and lives. “Wayne is a blessing not only when it comes to putting on wonderful productions but empowering everyone around that he comes in contact with,” one student said. “He has a passion for theatre and Christ that cannot be taught. He truly cares about each one of his students.”
Peer nominations from other faculty were equally positive. One colleague said, “Wayne is deeply dedicated dated to his students and to serving the NCU community. His attitude is consistently one of humility and strength.”
Matthews is passionate about bringing theatre to all audiences and has made significant efforts to include audiences that don’t typically get to experience theatre that fits their specific needs. In 2017, Matthews oversaw the NCU Theatre spring production of Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” featuring a double-size cast, as each actor has a “shadow” character portraying the part concurrently in American Sign Language (ASL). The show was the first of its kind for the university. Outreach to the Deaf community in the Twin Cities brought in many Deaf and hearing-impaired individuals who had never before experienced live theatre in their native language. In 2019, NCU’s production of “Seussical” welcomed groups of special education students from two Minneapolis schools for a matinee performance. The students who came were from programs for children on the autism spectrum or with emotional/behavioral differences.
Making the performance accessible and welcoming to special needs students was Matthews’ idea. “Here at NCU we believe in doing ‘theatre on purpose,’ Matthews said. “In other words, we not only want to train students in their craft but also utilize the powerful potential of theatre to speak into and touch the world with important truths. One of the underlying themes of ‘Seussical’ is that ‘A person is a person, no matter how small.’ It was our heart to have an audience full of children with special needs, give them the gift of “Seussical,” and let them know how incredibly valuable they are!”
Matthews holds an M.A. in Theatre, emphasis in Design from Southern Oregon University, and a B.S. in Theatre from North Central University.
About Regina Daniels
Daniels came to North Central in 2017 from Cal State, Monterey Bay, where she was full-time ASL faculty. Since 2009, she has also taught ASL courses in Chicago, Illinois, and at Gallaudet University. “Teaching ASL to the students interested in interpreting or Deaf Studies has given me the joy to share my culture with them,” Daniels said. “Students inspired me to continue teaching and mentoring other students who want to work with deaf students from elementary schools to higher education/university.”
In addition to teaching, Daniels regularly serves as an interpreter, coach, and mentor in a wide array of venues. She has been interpreting and coaching and mentoring interpreters for the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis since 2017 and has coached at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Portland. Daniels has led a workshop for the Deaf Women Online Conference about Minnesota’s Interpreters of Color, a Women’s March during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King event, served the Minnesota Commission of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) for ASL Translation, including COVID-19 updates. One workshop Daniels especially enjoyed was Deaf Mission Interpreting Conference, which was the first time she experienced teaching an international community who came to learn about Jesus. She continues her involvement with the Deaf Mission organization and their Christian Leadership Conference. In 2020, Daniels served as an ASL interpreter for White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings.
Before teaching, Daniels was involved in the performing arts and her style and flair as a performer are evident in her classroom and interactions with students. She is well known and well-liked on campus and has developed relationships outside of the ASL department. One student observed, “She is honestly such an inspiration to the students on campus. She is very kind and considerate. She’s a hard worker. She’s strong and independent. She’s a leader. It’s an honor to be one of her students.”
A North Central faculty member said of Daniels, “Her dedication to serving the Deaf community by balancing her doctoral work, teaching at NCU, and routinely interpreting for events in the Twin Cities sets her apart. She has grown spiritually since coming to NCU and that shines through her service at Cedar Valley Church (Bloomington, Minnesota), where she interprets on Sundays, and through her one-on-one time with students.”
Daniels is currently completing doctoral studies at St. Mary’s University (Minnesota); she holds an M.A. in Performance Arts Management from Columbia College (Illinois) and a B.A. in Dance from the University of Maryland.
Congratulations to Professors Matthews and Daniels for their recognition as North Central University Faculty of the Year for 2021!