Professor Ev Lunning, Jr- PRINT ONLY

Assistant Professor of Theater Arts Ev Lunning, Jr. is retiring this spring after a fruitful, lively career. Actor, director, musician, athlete and educator, Lunning will continue to visit campus and stay involved. Before his final semester comes to its close, Lunning shares some words of wisdom with Hilltop Views.

Q: You were educated at Yale University. As a freshman, did you ever imagine that you would end up in Austin as a professor, following your dreams in perhaps a different way than you had imagined?

A: When I was a freshman in college I was clueless about a lot of things. I wasn’t planning into the future much more than one semester ahead. I was on the football team, I joined the dramatic club and made friends there which have lasted to the present day. I might have envisioned becoming an English teacher. But I was fixed on a career in performance.

Q: What was your parents’ response to pursuing a career in performance?

A: It made their eyes cross a little bit. But bless their hearts, they bit their tongue and they said, “Alright, we’ll help you see it through.” To be truthful, graduate programs then unlike graduate programs today, weren’t really oriented to help people make their way in the business. I discovered how people made their way in the business from friends and classmates and then from experiencing the job search activities in New York more than I was ever prepared for it by people at the university. I didn’t have a good crystal ball. What is it they say? Life is just one thing after another.

Q: In terms of spirituality, can you attest to whether or not a sense of spirituality or connectedness has guided you in your life?

A: Theater started as a religious experience. In Athenian society it was part of the religious festival in honor of Dionysus. In western Europe after the dark ages, theater started again as an offshoot of the mass. In other words, you can’t be in theater and not have a spiritual consciousness. Theater is all about standing in someone else’s shoes and presenting experience in a way that communicates to an audience of people.

Q: When you think of your time here spent at St. Edward’s University, what is one of the most remarkable memories you have?

A: In 2005, the year of hurricane Katrina, we did a play about the career of Cesar Chavez called “Cesar and Ruben.” We came to do this play because of Brother Gerald Muller. I was appointed Artistic Director of the theater and Brother Gerald called to me from across campus and he said, “You call Ed Begley Jr. He’s got a play for you.” The emotional part is that in the first weekend of the play, 100 people from the Valley, all members of the United Farm Worker’s Union, had t-shirts made and everything and their response at the curtain call was just… Then we got in contact with University Advancement and we had to move the opening up three days so that we could have a gala event that benefitted the CAMP program. We raised $40,000. So that’s the event. It has all those strands to it.

Q: With all these experiences in mind, what would be your final words of wisdom to students, administrative staff and faculty before you retire?

A: President Dr. George Martin is really good at articulating the important accomplishments of all branches of the University and expressing how St. Edward’s really is a special place. It’s special in the physical sense, a pleasant spot on the hilltop. It’s special in the way faculty and staff work together to support students. It’s special in the extraordinary accomplishments of students. My hope would be that people keep the mission firmly in mind and continue to work to achieve that mission.