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James R Sullivan

Class of 1972

A funny thing happened on your way to a theatrical career in New York upon graduation from Beloit – you remained in Rockford, Illinois, and became a singular force in the revitalization of its cultural life and downtown district as the founder and producing director of the New American Theater.  Your dedication to good theater is recognized worldwide, for you not only have directed more than 100 productions, performed in many others and won numerous awards, but also have staged plays in Bulgaria and Russia under the auspices of the International Theatre Institute and several U. S. agencies.  Beloit College likewise has been a beneficiary of your talents and energies through your service as a visiting instructor and founder/director of the Festival Theater.  Although you view the theater as a builder of a community’s self-awareness, confidence and spirit, the road you’ve traveled has not been easy;  a recent newspaper feature compared your “life of changed plans, frustrating losses and unexpected triumphs” to that of actor Jimmy Stewart in the movie classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” and called you “Rockford’s George Bailey.”  Still, buoyed by your boundless optimism and love of  challenge, NAT has embarked upon a three-year, $1.7million fundraising drive to erase its debt and ensure its future.  Your Alma Mater takes great pride in recognizing your artistic initiative and accomplishments by presenting you this Distinguished Service Citation.