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Ohio Northern University to name stage in honor of Nils and Susan Riess

Apr 3, 2014

Ohio Northern University will dedicate the Freed Center for the Performing Arts’ stage in honor of Nils and Susan Riess on Friday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. prior to the ONU production of “Footloose.”

“Nils Riess has been the central figure in growing, developing, managing, and leading the Freed Center and the academic programs it houses,” said Daniel A. DiBiasio, Ohio Northern University president. “His numerous accomplishments are as great as his many talents. In so many ways, Nils is the Freed Center, and we have deep respect and abiding affection for him. Nils leaves a legacy of purpose, professionalism and progress, a legacy that ensures a vibrant future for the Freed Center and all that happens within such a special space.”

A native of New York City, Riess became chair of the ONU Department of Communication and Theatre in 1982 and spearheaded the growth and reputation of ONU as one of the top theatre programs. During his tenure at ONU, the department has grown from 12 majors to more than 130. Riess has expanded the theatre program to include a minor in dance, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theatre, a guest artist program and an international studies program. He also was instrumental in setting up the Bachelor of Fine Arts in international theatre production. Riess considers international collaborations an integral part of the theatre program. In addition to founding the International Play Festival, he has hosted numerous international artists and facilitated student study programs and internships throughout the world.

Riess was prominent in planning the design and construction of the Freed Center for the Performing Arts. As a director, he has staged more than 100 plays and produced more than 400 performance events. He has experience as a professional actor, director, stage manager and consultant in arts education, and is an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. He has served on theatre and dance advisory panels and as an on-site theatre and dance evaluator for the Ohio Arts Council.

In 2005, Riess was recognized for his contributions to the theatre world and his academic accomplishments with the Ohio Governor’s Award for Arts in Education