August 27 would have been the 80th birthday of Sheldon Patinkin–longtime chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department, noted director and teacher, and cherished friend and mentor to many in the Chicago theatre community. Sheldon passed away on September 21, 2014. Shortly before his death, he established the Sheldon Patinkin Endowed Award at Columbia College Chicago, which will give outstanding graduating Theatre students a cash stipend to aid in their journey toward professional careers. Due to the generosity of Sheldon before his death, and to the support of his family, friends, colleagues, and alumni of the Theatre Department across the country, the Scholarship Fund is growing. Donations can be made by visiting www.colum.edu/sheldonpatinkin. The website includes a short biographical video of Sheldon as well as a video of the memorial celebration held in his honor on January 26, 2015.
Sheldon Patinkin was Chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department from 1980 to 2009, when he assumed the title of Chair Emeritus, continuing to teach and direct at the College until his death. He was an Artistic Consultant at Steppenwolf Theatre and co-founder of The School at Steppenwolf, and taught at The School for 17 years. And he was an original member of Second City from the company’s beginnings–when it was founded in 1959 by Bernard Sahlins, Paul Sills, and Howard Alk. He served as Sills’ assistant director and then succeeded Sills as artistic director of the groundbreaking comedy theatre, eventually becoming an Artistic Consultant there.
Sheldon became chair and artistic director of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department just as the college was centralizing its campus in the South Loop. He built the department into what it is today: the largest college theatre department in the United States. He recruited a distinguished faculty of working professionals in theatre, film, and television–establishing an intimate and expansive network of ties to Chicago’s vibrant theatre community.
Please join us in saluting this beloved friend, iconic theatre artist, and devoted teacher.