A simple, dignified medallion, hanging in the entryway of the Foley Building, shines a spotlight on Virginia Barnelle’s selection into the inaugural group of Loyola Marymount University’s Faculty Hall of Fame.
A passerby would know that an important career was being celebrated. But what can’t be readily seen, as in the theatre world itself, are the long hours, dedication and hard work to make it happen. Barnelle established the Theatre Department at Marymount College and was chair from 1953 until Marymount and Loyola University merged in 1973. She then was the founder, chair and driving force of the Theatre Arts Department at LMU until she retired in 1980. Generations of theatre arts majors were nurtured and launched into their careers by Barnelle, says Katharine Free, professor of theater, who was mentored as a student by Barnelle and remained a close friend until Barnelle’s death in 1995.
The selection in the Faculty Hall of Fame was spurred by the more than 30 letters, Free says, that bear witness to Barnelle’s warm personality, interest in mentoring students and passionate devotion to the theatre.
“She believed that one could not be an artist if one was not also a bit of a scholar,” says Elizabeth Faulkner ’80, who was among the former students who nominated Barnelle. “She stressed not only performance, but the importance of embracing our historic past as actors.”