A look forward

29 November 2021

It is an exciting and important time in the performing arts. Theaters on Broadway are open again. The iconic Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes features 14 Pace Performing Arts Commercial Dance alumni and students. The cast and crew of Fugitive Songs, including current musical theater, directing, and stage management students, was featured on the big screen at the Tony Awards. As we work our way out of this pandemic, curtains are coming up and the performing arts are central to our recovery.

Dear PPA Community:

It is an exciting and important time in the performing arts. Theaters on Broadway are open again. The iconic Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes features 14 Pace Performing Arts Commercial Dance alumni and students. The cast and crew of Fugitive Songs, including current musical theater, directing, and stage management students, was featured on the big screen at the Tony Awards. As we work our way out of this pandemic, curtains are coming up and the performing arts are central to our recovery.

The performing arts faculty and staff continue to demonstrate a deep commitment and passion for improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts, which have always been central to the program.  I want to update you on the exciting and important things happening at Pace University and Pace Performing Arts. Recently, Pace University introduced a new Strategic Plan, which lays out our key priorities and focuses on four areas of academic opportunities, which includes a deep commitment to the arts. In September, College Magazine ranked the program #4 in their list of Colleges for Aspiring Broadway Stars. We recently announced the hiring of a new Executive Director, Jennifer Holmes. We have also hired Amen Igbinosun to serve as a clinical assistant professor and program head for Acting for Film, Television, Voice-overs, and Commercials (FTVC), and our search for a new musical theater program head is ongoing.

Our students and alumni continue to soar to new heights. 

  • Earlier this year, PPA alumna Dominique Fishback starred in Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah, portraying Deborah Johnson; she was nominated for best supporting actress across multiple major award ceremonies and won at the African-American Film Critics Association Awards and the Black Reel Awards. 
  • FTVC alumnus Rafael Silva ’17 continues his role as Carlos Reyes on the hit Fox series 9-1-1: Lone Star, starring Rob Lowe, which is headed into its third successful season this January.
  • FTVC student Oscar Wahlberg ’22 debuted this month in Showtime’s Dexter: New Blood, playing Zach, captain of the show’s high school wrestling team. 
  • Samantha Williams ’21, a Musical Theater alumna, is playing the role of Emmie Thibodeaux in Caroline, or Change, which opened on Broadway last month. (When she was a PPA student, Williams played Caroline in our production of that show.) Samantha made her Broadway debut as Alana Beck in the Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen.
  • Musical theater student Analise Scarpaci ’22 debuts in the Broadway adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire on December 5; the show is currently in previews.

I am proud to say that you are part of one of the leading performing arts programs in the country, and I want you to know that we are committed to ensuring it remains the best program it can be.

As you may know, there has been an ongoing evaluation of the program and changes are being made to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. Some of the changes adopted include a faculty-led review of the curricula to better reflect the diverse voices and scholarship of the arts; the addition of a course for all first-year students called the History of Equity and Diversity in American Entertainment; training a faculty member to serve as an intimacy coordinator; community conversations and trainings for faculty and staff; recruiting hiring more BIPOC faculty and staff; and examining casting policies. Additionally, faculty engaged, with the support of a consultant, in a series of workshops and trainings on racism in the arts, which included Ally to Advocate to Accomplice, Decolonizing the Canon and Developing an Individual and Organizational Anti-Racist Strategy (Policies, Programs, and Practices) to ensure they are considering inclusion and diversity in their teachings.

As you are aware, starting in June 2020, allegations were made on social media accusing several PPA Program administrators, including Professor Amy Rogers, of having engaged in discrimination. While no formal complaints were filed in 2020, a thorough investigation by a respected outside law firm was conducted in 2020 and 2021. Pace’s investigations of those allegations, as well as its investigations related to complaints against the PPA Program dating back to 2015, did not find any violation of Pace’s discrimination policies by Professor Rogers or other PPA Program administrators.

PPA is on a journey toward improvement in diversity, equity and inclusion, as is much of the performing arts community—and hopefully this country. Please join me and the Pace Community in making this world a more just and equal place to learn, grow, and thrive.

Respectfully yours,


Dean Tresmaine Grimes