Prior to his appointment as Interim Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Bennett College, Steve Willis served as Dean of the Division of Humanities, Business, and Professional Studies from 2015-2016. Earlier, he served as Division Director of Humanities from 2011-2014, and as Department Chair of Visual and Performing Arts from 2010-2011. He joined the faculty at Bennett in 2003, and he became a tenured Associate Professor of Theatre and Speech in 2010.
At Bennett, Willis has served on many campus committees, including Faculty Senate, Tenure and Promotion, Faculty Handbook, Curriculum, General Education and Assessment, and Facilities Review. From 2004-2006, he was Bennett’s Service Learning Coordinator, and during that same time frame, he served on the Task Force for Bennett’s first Learning Communities initiative. A strong advocate for Learning Communities, he was actively involved in helping to bring this program back to campus for the current academic year.
In 2014, he was selected to attend a Fulbright-Hays Global Seminar, which allowed him to spend five weeks traveling in China with an interdisciplinary team of scholars. In 2015, he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to attend a four-week seminar at the University of California-Santa Cruz. In 2012, he was invited to participate in a Salzburg Global Seminar entitled “Public and Private Cultural Exchange-Based Diplomacy.” He has been a Scholar-in-Residence three times as part of New York University’s Faculty Resource Network Program, and he has attended seminars through the Network in New York City as well as in Puerto Rico.
As a playwright, Willis has received numerous grants and awards, including a Fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council, and two grants from the Central Piedmont Regional Artist Hub Program. His plays have been produced internationally in Australia and South Africa, as well as in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, San Diego, and various other US cities. He is the co-author of a forthcoming biography of the pioneering African-American actress Diana Sands.
He has written articles and columns for Southern Theatre, and he has presented at various theatre and academic conferences, including the SACS-COC Annual Convention, the International Colloquium at the National Black Theatre Festival, the Black Theatre Network, the Southern Conference on African-American Studies, and Southeastern Theatre Conference.
He has served on the boards of several local organizations including the Piedmont Triad Council for International Visitors, and the Carolina Theatre. In 2012, he was part of the Greensboro Performing Arts Task Force, which developed the initial plans for the new Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts Center, scheduled to open in 2018. Additionally, he is active in the local yoga community, and he is a certified yoga instructor through the Yoga Alliance.
Willis received his M.F.A. in Theatre from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and his B.A. in English/Dramatic Arts and Speech from Averett University. For thirteen years, he was the Executive Director of the High Point Theatre and Exhibition Center, while teaching part-time at both High Point University and Guilford Technical Community College. Before coming to Bennett, he was an adjunct faculty member in the Theatre programs at both NC A&T State University and Greensboro College.