Theatre professor Carlos Cruz presented Engaged Faculty Award

CarlosAlexis Cruz, associate professor of theatre, is the 2024 Engaged Faculty Award recipient as presented by North Carolina Campus Engagement.

This annual honor recognizes one faculty member in North Carolina for exemplary engaged teaching and scholarship including leadership that advances students’ community and civic learning, conducting community-based research, fostering reciprocal community partnerships and building institutional commitments to service-learning and community engagement. The award was presented recently at NCCE’s 2024 PACE Conference at Guilford College.

Cruz, who came to UNC Charlotte in 2013, teaches physical theatre, including circus arts, in the Department of Theatre. In 2014 he founded the Nouveau Sud Circus Project with a McColl Award from the Arts & Science Council. Empowering individuals and communities that are often marginalized lies at the root of this community-centered contemporary circus company.

Since its debut production in April 2016, Nouveau Sud continues to mount shows that address social justice issues, particularly issues of immigration and race and ethnicity. In In 2019, Nouveau Sud received a $25,000 Celebrate Charlotte Arts grant from the Knight Foundation and in 2020 received the prestigious Creation and Touring Grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts for its production, “La Bestia.”

Cruz integrates teaching with his community work and professional artmaking. Several members of Nouveau Sud are Charlotte alumni, and in 2021, Cruz worked with Mexican American playwright Georgina Escobar to develop “MIGRANT X,” a play that explored the issue of immigration policy globally, nationally and locally through the real stories of Charlotte residents. Directed by Cruz and performed by students and community members, “MIGRANT X” premiered at UNC Charlotte in October 2021.

“Cruz’s performance strategies have enabled him to interweave teaching, service and research in ways that position his classrooms as spaces of empowerment, providing real-world experiences that allow students to find their voices, share their skills and give a voice to communities in need,” said Jennifer Troyer, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “I am so pleased that he has been recognized with the Engaged Faculty Award.”

Read more on the College of Arts + Architecture website.

Photo: Associate Provost for Urban Research and Community Engagement Byron White, left, with Carlos Cruz and Tamara Johnson, director of engaged scholarship, at the NCCE event.