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Dec. 3, 2019

Retired faculty member establishes theatre scholarship to honor late wife

By Kala Dixon, communication assistant


Beginning with the 2020-21 academic year, Northwest Missouri State University theatre and speech majors can receive an annual scholarship acknowledging a retired faculty member’s devotion to his late wife’s passion for theatre.

Dr. Mark Jelavich, an economics instructor at Northwest from 1981 to 2012, recently established the Janet (Stuck) Jelavich Scholarship in memory of Janet, who died last year after a short battle with cancer. She graduated from Northwest in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary speech and theatre education and earned a master’s degree in education in 1986 at Northwest. She also was a member of Northwest’s speech and debate team.

“She’s always liked musical theatre,” Jelavich said. “In particular, she and my daughter would head off to New York quite often to watch plays on Broadway. That was her interest and her passion.”

The Jelavich family provided a gift of $16,200 to establish the scholarship. One $600 award will be given annually to assist theatre students.

A selection committee of faculty members representing the Department of Fine and Performing Arts will determine the recipient of the scholarship. Recipients must be a full-time student with sophomore, junior or senior classification; maintain a minimum 2.75 cumulative grade-point average; and be a declared major in theatre or speech and theatre education.

“Every year there are students who, through awards like this, are able to continue their education — and more importantly their dreams to work in or teach theatre — through the generosity of donors such as Dr. Mark Jelavich, to whom we are very thankful,” Dr. Joe Kreizinger, a Northwest professor of theatre, said. “Awards such as this can make the difference in whether students follow that dream. It provides them much-needed resources, and the honor of receiving such an award often gives them that needed boost of confidence and pride that can propel them immensely. Being able to honor an individual like Mrs. Jelavich through an award that recognizes her contributions to and love for the theatre is truly special.”

Mark Jelavich hopes the scholarship encourages future students pursuing theatre degrees.

“I just like the idea of encouraging students to get into theatre,” Jelavich said. “They can carry that on into what they do at the middle school and high school levels. Some of them might be able to do it professionally.”

Mark and Janet met while working on a play at the Robidoux Resident Theatre in St. Joseph, Missouri. Janet directed and produced plays and musicals for high school and community theater productions. She also taught speech and debate in St. Joseph and Savannah and later taught English at Maryville High School.

During her free time, she enjoyed attending musicals and plays, especially “Hamilton” and “The Band’s Visit.”

The Jelaviches raised two children, Michael and Abigail. Michael graduated from the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing at Northwest in 2005 and is a chemist in St. Louis, Missouri. Abigail is a college admissions counselor in Kansas City, Missouri.

Since his retirement from Northwest, Jelavich enjoys volunteering at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, and teaches graduate classes at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.

The Northwest Foundation, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation, develops and stewards philanthropic resources for the benefit of the Northwest Missouri State University and its students. For more information or to make a gift to support Northwest, contact the Office of University Advancement at 660.562.1248 or advance@nwmissouri.edu, or visit www.nwmissouri.edu/GiveOnline.


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704