Spring 2003 Magazine Archive & SearchMuhlenberg Home


Door to Door - News from Muhlenberg College
page 2 Music to everyone’s ears…
Accomplished political and religious leaders to address class of 2003
A suite project…
page 3 Organic chemistry and chamber orchestra benefit from grant awards
Anderson receives Hoffman fellowship for research
Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre unveils its 2003 season
page 4 Places We Go, Places We Know
Mark Your Calendar for the Annual Art Exhibition!
page 5 Niesenbaum Named Class of 1932 Research Professor
Curtis Dretsch returns to Theatre Department


Niesenbaum named Class of 1932
research professor

Richard A. Niesenbaum, associate professor of biology, has received the Class of 1932 Research Professorship for the 2003-04 academic year. Niesenbaum, who holds a B.A. and Ph.D. in biology from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.S. in biological oceanography and coastal ecology from the University of Connecticut, joined the Muhlenberg faculty in 1993. Previously, he taught at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania.

Niesenbaum’s research project, “The Ecological Uncertainty Principle – How experimenter visitation and measurement affect herbivory and plant growth,” studies the way the act of entering a field and measuring plants in order to study them may actually affect those plants’ interactions with other organisms and their environment. His research, which has been funded by a two-year grant from the National Science Foundation, will challenge the long-standing assumption that field researchers are “benign observers.”

The Class of 1932 Professorship provides release time for up to one academic year, with an additional budget for research and publication expenses.


Curtis Dretsch returns to Theatre Department


Curtis Dretsch, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college for faculty, has chosen to return to a teaching position in the College’s department of theatre and dance, effective this summer.

“Curtis Dretsch is one of Muhlenberg College’s most loyal and committed employees,” says James Steffy, interim president. “He is a friend and a colleague. We appreciate his effective and dedicated service as dean. We are deeply indebted to Curtis for his many and varied contributions to the College. I am pleased that he will bring his considerable talents back to our theatre department.”

Dretsch started his Muhlenberg career in 1979, when he was named an assistant professor in the “drama” program. At the time, drama was part of the English department. Along with department chair Charles Richter, Dretsch can claim considerable credit for building a nationally recognized, high quality theatre and dance department at Muhlenberg.

From 1979 to 1993, Dretsch was a designer and technical director in the theatre arts department. He was named dean of the college for academic life in 1993, and in that position was responsible for academic advising, academic records and the Trexler Library. In 1996, he was named dean of the college for faculty. In 1999, he added the title of vice president for academic affairs.

During his tenure as dean, Dretsch presided over a 20 percent growth in the size of the faculty. With his encouragement and support, Muhlenberg’s faculty has achieved retention rates that are among the highest in the nation and graduation rates that are nearly twice the national average. Under his guidance, the College also instituted curricular revision in nearly every academic department. In addition to his academic responsibilities, Dretsch has had a major impact on campus planning and design. He was an integral part of the renovation of the Haas College Center, the Ettinger Building and the General’s Quarters in Seegers Union, and the design and construction of the Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Moyer Hall and Robertson and South Halls.

A native of South Dakota, Dretsch graduated from Montana State University. He received his Master’s of Fine Arts degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He has designed professionally for the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, the Pennsylvania Stage Company, the Terry Beck Dance Troupe in Philadelphia and the Dance Theatre Workshop in New York. His designs have been featured in theatre projects in Baltimore, Philadelphia, London and Edinburgh.


previous page CONTENTS next page