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Yurgaitis named outstanding educator

Daniel Yurgaitis has been selected as Northern State University’s 2011-12 Outstanding Educator of the Year.


Yurgaitis, Northern’s director of theater since 1999, has successfully guided the university’s new Bachelor of Arts in musical theater and has raised the level of performance expectation to a very high degree, said Alan LaFave, dean of the NSU School of Fine Arts.


“Under his guidance, our theater program has gained many accolades and experienced great success, especially during this past academic year,”


LaFave said. LaFave said the fall performance of “Phantom of the Opera” was a watershed moment for Yurgaitis and the musical theater program. Several aspects of the production rivaled professional level theater, he said, and the attendance of nearly 4,000 patrons was the largest in the history of the School of Fine Arts.


“It was simply a display of excellence in every respect,” LaFave said.


Yurgaitis has directed and choreographed for theaters throughout the country. His regional and university credits include productions of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” “Urinetown” and “Miss Saigon.” Yurgaitis also runs the Northern Fort Playhouse at Historic Fort Sisseton in the summer and directs one summer show for Aberdeen Community Theatre.


Peter Kilian, chair of the NSU department of art and theater, said Yurgaitis has time and again demonstrated his dedication and enthusiasm to his students, the theater program, the School of Fine Arts and NSU.


“Mr. Yurgaitis’ leadership, energy and creative vision has established regional recognition and national respect for the NSU theater program,” Kilian said.