Professor Emeritus Spinks passes away

The University community expresses its most sincere condolences to the family, friends, former students and colleagues of the late David Spinks, a Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Fine Arts (Theatre and Dramatic Arts) who passed away at his home in England at age 81 after a brief illness.

He is survived by his wife, Jo, and daughter Elisabeth. A memorial service is scheduled to take place July 4 beginning at 3 p.m. near Martlesham Heath at the Seven Hills Crematorium in Nacton, UK.

Spinks arrived from England in 1971 as the first regular faculty member in Dramatic Arts. He had distinguished himself in drama and education in England, teaching for Cambridge University and producing plays for children, youth and adults throughout Cambridgeshire.

His knowledge of, and passion for, theatre combined with his boundless enthusiasm and charismatic personality propelled the department forward at lightning speed. He drafted the first curriculum, integrating it into Arts and Science and hired the first faculty members. Spinks also worked closely with the architects to design the University Centre for the Arts theatre spaces, including an experimental theatre which was later named the David Spinks Theatre in his honour.

He was promoted to full professor in 1988 and retired in 1990, in the process earning the respect and love of his students and one of the first Distinguished Teaching Awards.

Dean Emeritus Ches Skinner recalls Spinks as a mentor and friend.

"He had an unrivalled passion for teaching and excelled at helping students find their own voices and then enabled them to find the confidence to use them," says Skinner. "Students flocked to his classes and through David's inimitable style shared in his passion for theatre and particularly that aimed at children and young audiences.

"Whereas David sometimes directed scripted work (plays written by others as found in the library etc.), he was exceptional at encouraging students to find the drama in their own lives and then creating shows that were meaningful to the performers and audiences alike. He left some of his magic behind...I know it continues via his students and teaching colleagues."

"David Spinks was a gentleman of good humour, intelligence and extraordinary generosity," says long-time colleague Richard Epp. "His leadership as a teacher and his encouragement of colleagues permitted the arts to play a major role on this campus in its formative years. I am privileged to have known David and to have worked with him in the dramatic arts."