Ever since associate professor Anna Kurtz Kuk left in early 2022, professor Amy Budd and theater technical director Jacob Claassen have been the only employees in the Goshen College theater department. 

Only in late 2022 did GC start the process of recruiting someone to complete the theater professor’s team. Unfortunately, the search was not successful. 

Ann Vendrely, academic dean, said that the school held a search for a new faculty member but could not find a qualified one. Instead, Budd hired an adjunct that agreed to return next year. “We are hopeful that we will have funding to support a search for another theater faculty member in the near future,” Vendrely said.

Budd explained, “We finally got a hiring movement last year, but due to several logistical reasons, the search was very brief.” Concerning the candidates, Budd said, “In college, the relationships you build are extremely important for students. I didn’t want to set up a situation in which students couldn’t trust a professor and felt uncomfortable.”

Yet, students like Jocsan Barahona Rosales, a junior music and theater double major, agreed with Budd. “We were definitely concerned about the missing teacher,” he said, “and we were putting up a petition to make sure that problem was solved.” He added that a change was never completely made. 

Since then, Budd, alongside Claassen and adjunct professor Jonathan Sabo, has been responsible for teaching, producing and directing all the content addressed in the classroom. Budd has had to find ways to run the department while teaching most theater classes.

“Due to budgetary reasons, the board of trustees decided to not grant the hire of new employees to the theater department,” Budd said. “Unwillingly, I ended up being the only person in a classroom, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to have one single professor in a subject. Students need more different perspectives from more different people.”

Barahona Rosales agreed with Budd from an on-stage perspective. “For the arts courses in general,” he said, “you definitely want more than one opinion and point of view coming to you, so you can develop as a complete actor.”

Budd highlighted that it has been challenging to put on relevant, exciting and interesting shows so that she can help the development of the program. 

“For me, making our shows something that people want to attend is the first step to growing the department,” Budd said. “I wanted to grow our recognition, but I need help in terms of recruitment of other experts.”

The hardest part for Budd has been feeling isolated. “I don’t have another person to share advising tasks with,” she said. “I don’t have anybody else that is in my department. … When Anna and I used to be here together, we would take turns directing and producing whenever a new semester came. Now I do both in all semesters.” She ended with, “I know that is a tough situation for the administration and I would never disparage them.”

And, she added, Claassen and Sabo have helped her immensely. “I am so grateful to have professionals like Jacob and Jonathan by my side. They are really good at their job and have been extremely helpful to the department. However, they are not technically professors. … Until there is not another brain to help me, maintaining a high level of teaching and continuing to produce excellent works needs to stay the priority.” 

In recognition of his professor, Barahona Rosales said: “Amy has been doing a lot to make sure that we can keep it up, but it is something that requires another educator. I do enjoy having Amy in class but, unfortunately, with only one professor, it’s a lot on one person and it limits what we can do. It’s disheartening.”