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Harold Oaks

Emeritus Professor of Theatre Dr. Harold R. Oaks has been chosen as the namesake for the Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (TYA/USA) award for significant contributions from organizations or individuals in the field of professional theatre for young audiences. Dr. Oaks served as the President of TYA/USA for eight years, and President of the international organization (ASSITEJ International with centers in over 70 countries) for three years. The Harold Oaks award has been presented to Joette Pelster (2013), the People’s Light & Theatre Company (2013), Scot Copeland (2014), and the Metro Theatre Company (2014). The 2015 recipients will be announced in May.

Much of Dr. Oaks’ work has been in professional theatre for young audiences, and his many contributions to the area merit the honor of being this award’s namesake. He founded the BYU Young Company (formerly the Whittlin’ Whistlin’ Brigade), which performs abridged classics and traditional fairy & folk tales for younger audiences and serves as a training ground for BYU actors and directors wanting to work with young audiences. The Company celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. At the request of the Church, Oaks also developed a series of substance abuse and health-education puppet shows that have been used in more than two dozen countries around the world and translated into more than 16 languages.

He has held offices and served on many boards for theatre associations including as President of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and as Vice President of The American Theatre Association. He has received teaching and research awards from Brigham Young University, including the BYU Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2011. He also received the Medallion of the Children’s Theatre Foundation and the Gold Medallion of Excellence from the American College Theatre Festival.

Dr. Oaks was a professor in the Theatre and Media Arts Department at BYU. He served as the department chair from 1980 to 1993 and as an Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications from 2000 to 2002. As a student, he received a bachelor’s degree in speech and drama and a master’s degree in dramatic arts from BYU. He received his PhD from the University of Minnesota.

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Brett Helquist - Honored Alumni


Brett Helquist received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from Brigham Young University in 1993. He is the 2014 BYU Homecoming Spectacular College of Fine Arts and Communications Honored Alumnus Award recipient.

Helquist is perhaps best known for his work illustrating Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, which he considers to be his breakthrough experience in illustration. In addition to the Series of Unfortunate Events, he has also authored and illustrated three of his own books: Roger the Jolly Pirate, Bedtime for Bear, and Grumpy Goat. He also has a long list of other illustrated works, including books by Neil Gaiman, Blue Balliett, and Shana Corey.

Helquist served a mission in Hong Kong and then taught English in Taiwan for a year during his time as an undergraduate student at BYU. It was in Taiwan that he first professionally used his artistic talent, drawing illustrations for a series of English textbooks. After graduating from BYU, he interned with illustrator Robert Neubecker in New York for four months. The experience was formative for him, and he still resides and works in New York.

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H. Patrick Debenham

Pat debenham.jpg
Pat Debenham is the Featured Alumni Artist for the 2014 BYU Homecoming Spectacular.

He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1973 with a Bachelor's Degree in Dance. In 1976, Debenham received a master's degree at the University of California, Los Angeles. While at UCLA, he taught beginning modern dance classes. After graduating from UCLA, Professor Debenham joined the Dance faculty at BYU. He was a Professor at BYU in the Modern Dance Division of the Dance Department until his retirement in August 2013. He is currently an adjunct professor at Utah Valley University.

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Jaynie Litster Brown

Jaynie Brown is being featured in the 2014 BYU Spectacular for her Service to Family.

Jaynie Brown.jpg

She graduated from Brigham Young University in 1972 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications.

After the loss of her baby grandson Matthew in a tragic car accident, Brown dedicated her life dedicated to eliminating drunk driving in Utah. She has collaborated with Dr. Karol Kumpfer to create a DVD and 12-week course, called the Strengthening Families program, based on Kumpfer's research on critical familial skills. She leads a nonprofit organization to promote this program.

Brown also has lobbied for the Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) organization, served on the Salt Lake City Mayor's Coalition on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs, and trains refugee community leaders to make her program available to refugees in Utah.

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The Brigham Young University College of Fine Arts and Communications provides information on groups and persons associated with the college--either by employment, study, or performance--as a service to our readers. Statements or opinions expressed by external links or persons written about are provided on the wiki. However, views expressed by people or groups featured on the wiki do not necessarily reflect those of the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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The Purposes of the Wiki

Fine Arts Faculty, 1925.

1. To create a record of the organizational roots of the College of Fine Arts and Communications at Brigham Young University and its departments, places, significant events, professors, students, alumni, friends, and benefactors – and how they have contributed over time toward fulfilling the mission of Brigham Young University.

2. To provide a forum in which college alumni can record their contributions and performances; their experiences with teaching and learning; the ways in which they were mentored and influenced as students in this college, and how they are using their acquired skills to further their careers.

3. To recognize all who have been associated with the college who have made significant, national and international contributions to their fields.

4. To allow those who have been associated with the college over the years to be co-authors and collaborators in writing the college history.

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