President Barack Obama presented the National Medal of Arts to Robert Brustein, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Suffolk University, during a White House ceremony today, citing his contribution to the American theater and to the development of theater artists.

The citation read at the East Room ceremony as the president presented the award praised “Robert Brustein for his contributions to the American theater as a critic, producer, playwright, and educator. As founder of the Yale Repertory Theatre and the American Repertory Theatre and Institute and as the theatre critic for The New Republic since 1959, Mr. Brustein has been a leading force in the development of theater and theater artists in the United States.”

Theatre Department engagement

Brustein first came to the University’s College of Arts and Sciences as part of the Distinguished Visiting Scholars program in spring 2006. He became a full-time faculty member in spring 2007, assuming the role of a Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

He has lectured on Shakespearean tragedies, directing, and theater criticism. In fall 2007, the Theatre Department produced his play, The English Channel.

“We are delighted that the nation is bestowing laurels on Robert Brustein, especially for his role as an educator,” said Suffolk University Acting President and Provost Barry Brown. “He has changed the face of American theater, and he brings vitality to the University’s Theatre Department as he imparts his vast reservoir of knowledge to new generations of students.”

In good company

In addition to Brustein, the following were selected to receive National Medals of Arts: pianist Van Cliburn; sculptor Mark di Suvero, poet Donald Hall, musician and producer Quincy Jones, author Harper Lee, musician Sonny Rollins, actress Meryl Streep, singer and songwriter James Taylor and the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.

"The National Medal of Arts recipients represent the many vibrant and diverse art forms thriving in America," said National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman, whose organization manages the selection process. "From criticism to literature, music, poetry, sculpture and theater, these honorees' devotion to shaping and sharing American art is unrivaled, and I join the president and the country in saluting them."

The president also will award the 2010 National Humanities Medal to: Library of America founder Daniel Aaron, historian Bernard Bailyn, historian Jacques Barzun, novelist and environmentalist Wendell E. Berry, scholar Roberto González Echevarría, American Council of Learned Societies President Emeritus Stanley Nider Katz, author Joyce Carol Oates, biographer Arnold Rampersad, author Philip Roth, and historian Gordon Wood.