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W. Oren Parker

Late, Carnegie Mellon University

W. Oren Parker inspired hundreds of designers over his very long and successful teaching career. His absolute love of architecture and furniture was obvious to anyone who took his History of Architecture and Decor class (affectionately known as "Pots and Pans," which he no doubt thought was hilarious) if only from the sheer volume of information and detail involved. His dedication to teaching was unbeatable. Parker was born and raised in Michigan, where he met his wife, Thelma (known as Teschie). He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and his master's degree from Yale University in 1940. He joined the faculty of Yale and remained there until becoming professor of drama at Carnegie Mellon University (then Carnegie Tech) in 1963. He retired in 1976. His book, SCENIC TECHNIQUES, was the first to standardize drafting for theatre, and SCENE DESIGN AND STAGE LIGHTING, written in collaboration with Harvey Smith in 1963 and now in its ninth edition, was the definitive text for designers planning to enter the profession. Parker joined the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) in 1963 and was elected a fellow in 1986, the same year he received one of the Institute's highest honors--the USITT Award--for his work as designer, educator, and author. In 2001, the USITT created the W. Oren Parker Scene Design Award. Sponsored by Stage Decoration & Supplies, Inc., the award is given annually to an individual who has demonstrated excellence or outstanding potential in the area of scenic design in the performing arts while pursuing an undergraduate degree. It was the first of USITT's Awards for Young Designers & Technicians in the Performing Arts aimed at undergraduate students.