Returning to the stage he performed on as a high school student, Jim Bartruff, director of theater, was awarded the 2012 Golden Medallion during the Region V annual meeting of the Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival. The festival was held at Iowa State from Jan. 15-21.
“At lunch the next day, I discovered there was another Ames High alum who had been there,” Bartruff said. “He was there when I received the award, and the next day I was able to sit down and have a nice lunch with him. He also teaches at the college level in the region, so it was nice to sit down and compare notes about that.”
Nearly 1,600 students and faculty members from 50 colleges in Region V, which consists of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, attended the festival.
Twenty students accompanied Bartruff. Ross Rundell, senior theater major, has attended the festival with Bartruff for the last four years, and this was the second award he has seen Bartruff receive.
“One of the great things about Jim is that you can talk to him outside of the classroom – you get more than a teacher student relationship,” Rundell said. “He takes the time to actually get to know people and their situation, (and) he is a very involved teacher who is dedicated and spends a lot of time with his students.”
The Gold Medallion is given to the teachers “who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the values and goals of KCACTF and to excellence in educational theatre.” It is the most prestigious award presented by KCACTF.
Over the years, Bartruff has taught at several Division I and II universities.
“In terms of its tradition and in terms of what if offers to students, I think Emporia is the best institution I have taught at,” Bartruff said. “The others have their strengths in a lot of different ways, but just flat out in terms of what the program offers its students, I think it is clearly the best.”
Bartruff started his theater career in college after a friend teased him into trying out for the school play. The two still remained friends after he received the lead roll, and his friend was cast in a supporting roll.
“I grew up in a church family and our parents always encouraged my brother and I to follow our interests,” Bartruff said. “A couple of my brothers became really good basketball and football players, but I was never much of an athlete.”
An avid baseball fan, sports are still a hobby of Bartruff, but his true love remains on the stage.