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Theatre Professor Honored

honor.jpgby Jane Nicholson

BOONE — A 1970 postal strike caused Ed Pilkington to miss a New York teaching post, but it worked to Appalachian State University’s advantage.

While letters, including his paperwork from Fordham University, piled up in post offices across the city, Pilkington received and accepted an offer to teach at Appalachian.

The Appalachian professor of theatre has received the College of Fine and Applied Arts Outstanding Faculty Award, recognizing quality teaching, scholarship and service.

Pilkington taught at Elon College from 1966-70 where he helped found a professional acting company. He came to Appalachian in 1970, when budget cuts eliminated Elon’s theatre department, among other academic areas.

He started Mountaineer Playhouse his first year at Appalachian and directed Horn in the West for 16 years. “It was a good thing for me,” Pilkington said of the local outdoor drama. “I could use my entire family in the production and we could be together in the summers.” He eventually set aside his acting to focus on teaching and directing.

It is in teaching that his light shines brightest, said Ming Land, dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts. “His students adore him and they seek him out for advice and guidance. He is a dynamic and caring instructor.”

Pilkington has been called “an institution unto himself.”

“He is a beloved and revered professor who has spent almost his entire career helping mold and mentor students and building a positive climate for the arts in the university and Boone communities, the High Country, the state and the Southeast,” Land said.

Upon retiring in June 2001, Pilkington will return to the stage.

Pilkington got a taste for the bright lights of the stage early in his career. He worked in a number of off-Broadway productions in the 1960s, but as his family grew he turned to the stability of teaching.

“I have always been told it’s not good to retire from a job with nowhere to go.” He has renewed his acting equity card, hired an agent in Charlotte and is eager to “tread the boards” again. Pilkington already has appeared in Charlotte Repertory Company productions and commercials filmed in Wilmington.

“I’m not leaving a profession, I’m expanding my avenues,” he said.