In Memoriam: R. Terrell Finney, Jr.


R. Terrell Finney, Jr., Immediate Past President of NAST, passed away on January 23, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was 66 years old. Prior to his retirement, he had served as Head of the Division of Theatre Arts, Production, and Arts Administration at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati, and early in his career, Head of the Theatre Program at Birmingham-Southern College. In NAST, Terrell Finney was active as an evaluator, consultant, and presenter. He began volunteering in 1998. Eventually, he was elected by his peers to a number of offices, including member and Chair of the Commission on Accreditation, Vice President, and President. He was the Association’s highest elected officer from 2014 to 2017, and a member of the Board of Directors until his death.

During Professor Finney’s tenure as President, NAST commenced and conducted a multi-year comprehensive review of its accreditation standards, as well as the review and release of a new edition of its Procedures documents. This period also was marked by the completion and launch of the Association’s redesigned website. Professor Finney also assisted in the planning for and celebration of NAST’s 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting in March 2015, which focused on preserving the past and embracing the future.

Terrell Finney was a great citizen of the theatre. Starting with his education at Birmingham-Southern, Boston University, and the Royal National Theatre Studio in London, he cultivated an understanding of theatre and education that came to be recognized and respected for its breadth as well as its depth. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He directed in academic and professional theatre, administered large and complex productions and organizations, and brought absolute dedication to creating work of the highest distinction in whatever setting he found himself. He sought consensus in pursuit of excellence. He fostered cooperation among all types of institutions, and by example, helped all to see the synergies necessary for success in the field on levels ranging from the individual production to the vast world of theatre in higher education and its relationships to the profession as a whole. He sought to discover workable mixtures of continuity and change. And as a result, he listened and took counsel as intensively as he acted on principle.

Essentially, however, Terrell Finney will be remembered most for his dedication to helping students, colleagues, and his field succeed. He was electric with desire for productivity and achievement, and gracious in his pursuit of quality. He gave his expertise and sterling character to NAST and its members for over two decades. Individually and collectively, we are extremely fortunate and grateful.