If you walk into the theatre office wing on any given day, you may have the honor of seeing this incredible individual. At the end of the hallway, past posters of previous theatre shows signed by cast members, you will see a woman sitting with the brightest smile on her face. She is one of the most legendary individuals to ever grace Niagara University. Who is the person, you may ask? This individual is none other than Dr. Sharon Watkinson, professor and chair of the department of theatre and fine arts.
This is Dr. Watkinson’s 49th year teaching at Niagara University, and she absolutely loves it. Niagara University has taught her so much, not just in her undergraduate years of education, but throughout her numerous years of teaching as well.
“Niagara University has been a way of life for me,” she said. “It’s all I’ve ever known. Because I love what I do, I have never worked a day in my life.”
Dr. Watkinson co-founded the Niagara University theatre and fine arts program, alongside Brother Augustine Towey, a very special person in her life. Dr. Watkinson spent countless hours with Brother Augustine as they were growing, shaping and molding the program together.
Every day was a memorable day when Brother Augustine was around,” said Dr. Watkinson.
The program began in 1988 and the first degree was given out in 1991. Since then, the theatre and fine arts program at Niagara has become one of the finest programs of its kind, not only in Western New York, but throughout the state.
“Our program really gives our students a liberal arts education, but within that liberal arts education, they are getting a conservatory actor training program,” she said.
Dr. Watkinson notes that students who go through this program are not only graduating with a BA, but a BFA. Along with the extraordinary theatre training the program offers, students are offered a liberal arts education as well.
Dr. Watkinson’s career at Niagara University can most certainly be described as both illustrious and legendary. Moments that truly touched her heart were when she received the Vincentian Mission Award in 2005, the Outstanding Teacher Award (nominated by students), and honorary membership into the Delta Epsilon Sigma honor society.
Dr. Watkinson has touched the lives of hundreds of students, faculty, staff and administration throughout her time at Niagara, including this writer. She is an inspiration to us all. She is a one-of-a-kind individual who deserves every recognition she gets.
Niagara University loves you, Dr. Sharon, and it always will.