William Seigh, professor of dance, received the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teacher Award during the New Student Convocation ceremonies that a kicked off the fall semester on August 25. The Distinguished Teacher Award recognizes excellence in teaching, encouragement of independent thinking, rapport with students, and effective student advising, and Prof. Seigh is the 41st recipient of this distinctive honor.
Prof. Seigh’s impact on his students, the Theatre & Dance Department, and the campus, has been profound, as the many heartfelt letters from alumni, students, and faculty supporting his nomination for the award attest. He has a rare gift of motivating his students to find the excellence within themselves. Becky Midler ’10 remembered that, as a freshman, a knee injury caused her to give up her dream of becoming a dancer—until she met William Seigh. “He told me I can do anything; if my heart was in it, I could move past the injury. Following our conversation, he enrolled me in my first dance class in more than six months. … He worked with me and kept pushing me to reach my goals.”
Joshua Midget ’07 said that “rehearsals with William were rehearsals for life,” and Valerie Snowdon ’05 explained that “William does not simply teach dance; he creates critically thinking, confident, and motivated young citizens.” “With thorough knowledge of his field and enthusiastic diligence,” noted Shawn Ahern ’10, “William pushes his students far beyond their boundaries and guides them as they explore the unknown.”
What’s the secret to such profound teaching and influence? The inspiring acceptance speech that Prof. Seigh gave during convocation offers insight into his approach and is well worth reading.