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  April 19, 2004

Birdman, Former Fine Arts Dean, Dies

Jerome Birdman, former dean of the School of Fine Arts and professor emeritus of dramatic arts, died March 22. He was 73.

Birdman, who had been living in Tucson, Ariz., was fine arts dean from 1978 to 1989. He retired from UConn in 1992. Under his leadership, the School of Fine Arts developed many degree programs and expanded its outreach efforts throughout Connecticut.

"Many of the course offerings and even the buildings themselves would not be here if not for Jerome Birdman," said David G. Woods, the current School of Fine Arts dean. "He laid the groundwork for everything that exists at the School of Fine Arts."

A scholarship in Birdman's name is awarded annually to one student in each fine arts department for academic accomplishment and artistic promise.

Before coming to UConn, Birdman was dean and professor of dramatic arts at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1973 to1978. He was academic program officer for the board of trustees at Southern Illinois University System from 1971 to 1973, and a faculty member in the theater department at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville from 1961 to 1971.

From 1958 to 1961, he was director of cultural programming for American Forces with the United States Information Service and Consulate in northeastern Italy. While there, he produced and/or directed more than 40 plays, musicals, and concerts.

Birdman was on the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Arts from 1985 to 1988, and on the executive committee of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans from 1981 to 1983.

He earned a bachelor's degree in mass communications and English from Temple University in 1956, and two degrees from the University of Illinois: a master's degree in theater in 1957 and a doctorate in theater in 1970.

Birdman, who was born in Philadelphia, met his wife, Evanira in Vicenza, Italy.

He is survived by his wife; two daughters, Beatrice Birdman of Hartford, and Julia Birdman of Tucson; two grandchildren and a brother.