Professor Joel Veenstra Named the 2023 Oscar Brockett Outstanding Teacher

  • Joel Veenstra
Joel Veentra (Photo: Will Tee Yang)

The UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts is pleased to share that Professor Joel Veenstra from the Department of Drama has been awarded the prestigious 2023 Oscar Brockett Outstanding Teacher Award by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).

Named after the renowned theatre educator and historian Oscar Brockett, the Oscar Brockett Outstanding Teacher Award is a prestigious award in theatre education. It is presented annually to an exceptional college-level faculty member recognized by students and colleagues who have inspired through theatre instruction. The award seeks to recognize individuals who have imparted invaluable knowledge and inspired and nurtured creativity, communication, and diversity in theatre and education.

With his extensive contributions to the field of theatrical management, collaborative production, and improvisation, Professor Joel Veenstra truly embodies the spirit of the Oscar Brockett Outstanding Teacher Award. As the Vice-Chair of the Department of Drama and Co-Head of Stage Management, Veenstra has left an indelible mark on the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

At the heart of Veenstra’s teaching lies a commitment to nurturing the next generation of theatre professionals. He teaches stage management and improv courses at UCI and foundational courses for all incoming undergraduate and graduate theatre students. Moreover, he actively participates on the boards of prestigious professional organizations such as the Stage Managers’ Association and the Applied Improvisation Network. He is also the co-founder of the Global Improvisation Initiative. Leveraging these networks, Veenstra ensures his students have access to essential resources to achieve their professional goals.

Veenstra’s three key areas of research parallel his career accomplishments and passions: theatrical management, collaborative production, and improvisation. Throughout his career, Veenstra has collaborated with esteemed institutions such as Cirque du Soleil, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Pasadena Playhouse, Cornerstone Theatre Company, and Improbable (UK), solidifying his status as an Actors’ Equity Association stage manager, production manager, producer, and improviser. His expertise in applying improvisational concepts extends beyond the realm of theatre, encompassing fields such as business, healthcare, and intergenerational and cultural bridge-building.

As an educator, Veenstra stands out not only for his mastery of theatrical arts but also for his unwavering dedication to promoting a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse culture in both the theatre community and society at large. His influence as a resilient and benevolent artist, scholar, and human being has inspired countless students and colleagues, leaving a profound impact on their personal and professional lives.

The Claire Trevor School of the Arts congratulates Professor Joel Veenstra on this well-deserved recognition. His exceptional contributions to theatre education and commitment to fostering a more diverse and inclusive world continue to enrich the lives of those fortunate enough to learn from him.

For more information about ATHE and the Brockett Award subcommittee members, visit To learn more about the faculty in the Department of Drama, please visit