Doctor of Humane Letters
College of Liberal Arts, May 9, 2012
Joe Dowling, artistic director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, began his acting career as a member of Ireland's national Abbey Theatre's acting company while he was a university student. He founded the Young Abbey, Ireland's first theater-in-education group in 1970. In 1973, he began his directing career at the Peacock Theatre (the Abbey's second stage) and in 1976 he was appointed artistic director of the national touring company, the Irish Theatre Company. In 1978, at the age of 29, he became the youngest-ever artistic director of the Abbey Theatre. After leaving the Abbey in 1985, Mr. Dowling became managing and artistic director of Dublin's oldest commercial theater, The Gaiety Theatre, where he founded and directed The Gaiety School of Acting, which is now regarded as Ireland's premiere drama school. In 1990, he began his extensive directing career in North America and aboard. He was appointed artistic director of the Guthrie Theater in 1995. To date, he has directed more than 40 mainstage productions at the Guthrie. Under his leadership, the Guthrie opened its new three-theater complex on the banks of the Mississippi River, which Time Magazine called a "21st century dream factory." This complex has served as a model for arts organizations around the country and has also served the community in many ways. Mr. Dowling's contributions to the University are notable. He collaborated with former Dean Steven Rosenstone to create a program between the Guthrie Theater and the College of Liberal Arts, the Bachelor of Fine Arts Actor Training Program in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance - one of the first such collaborations in the nation. Mr. Dowling is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2006 Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Vision. He also holds honorary degrees from The University of St. Thomas, St. Johns University, St. Olaf College, the National University of Ireland, and Gonzaga University.
Honorary Degree Recipient
Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.