Students describe her as a personable teacher and passionate director who encourages them to overcome self-limitations. Fellow colleagues describe her as an empathetic mentor who plays a vital role at Converse.
Assistant Professor of Theatre, Dr. Chandra Owenby Hopkins, emulates all these impressive qualities and more. In only five years here at Converse, Dr. Hopkins—or ‘Dr. C’ as she’s affectionately referred to—has earned the respect of her colleagues and the admiration of her students.
She was visibly moved while being presented with this year’s coveted CATO Award for Faculty Excellence at commencement. The award is reserved for an accomplished faculty member who demonstrates excellence in teaching, advising and mentoring.
Dr. Hopkins said she was deeply honored to receive the Cato Award and is thrilled to a part of the Converse community. “Looking out at the faces of the graduating class which included those I have only taught in a single course and those I worked closely with each year in the Department of Theatre & Dance reminded me that Converse is an amazing place because of the students who come here,” Dr. Hopkins said. “They teach me in every class, production, and project the power of human connection. For me, the ability to connect, to change our communities for the better, and to work together in meaningful ways is the power of both theatre and of Converse. Our mission as a women’s college and our founder’s ideal to ‘see clearly, decide wisely, and act justly’ is beautifully radical and I am inspired to be a part of it.”
“The ability to connect, to change our communities for the better, and to work together in meaningful ways is the power of both theatre and of Converse”
Read what students have to say about Dr. Hopkins in this collaborative testimonial compiled by Musical Theatre student Haley Thomas ’18:
Skylan Kimbrell ’18 admires Dr. Hopkins’ encouraging directing style. “Antigone was the first show I acted in at Converse and Dr. Hopkins direction for that show was incredible,” Skylan said. “She had answers to every question and a warm greeting at every rehearsal. I learned to appreciate the art-form in so many new ways each night. She really made my first acting experience on the college main stage truly inspiring.”
Theatre grad Kirby Lesesne ‘17 said working with Dr. Hopkins on The Home Project was a wonderful experience. The Home Project was a multi-faceted theatre production blending photography, song, story, and dance. “This was my first production acting on stage in the Hazel B. Abbott Theater,” Kirby said. “I couldn’t imagine The Home Project being what it was without Dr. C leading us through the process.”
“One of the great things about going to a smaller college is having your professors know who you are.”
Caitlin Conneely ’17, stage manager for The Home Project, said Dr. Hopkins consistently focuses on collaboration as well as the comfort of her cast. “She emphasizes the importance of learning from different and diverse experiences,” Caitlin said. “Her work as both a director and mentor means that she puts the utmost trust in her cast and production team, and allows them to explore their own potentials”
All of Dr. Hopkins’ students agree that she goes above and beyond for them, making sure all of her students are getting the most out of their college experience. Converse II Theatre student Michelle Hernandez ’19 said, “One of the great things about going to a smaller college is having your professors know who you are. Dr. C cares about you and what you are doing both inside and outside the classroom. Dr. C invests in and genuinely cares about her students.”
Haley Thomas sums up Dr. Hopkins’ devotion to her students and craft best, saying, “Whether in the classroom, on the stage, or over coffee, Dr. C is always happy to lend an ear and a word of advice.”