Donald Swinney

Donald H. Swinney



  • University of Idaho, BA (1939)
  • University of Idaho. MA (1940)
  • University of Indiana, PhD (1948)

Employment history:

  • Designer, Tent Players, Moscow, Idaho (summers)
  • U.S. Army Medical Corps (WWII)
  • Designer and Technical Director, Indianapolis Civic Theatre (1947)
  • Designer and Technical Director, Indiana University Opera Department (1948)
  • Professor, Designer, and Technical Director, University of Denver (1948-1950)
  • Professor, Designer, Technical Director, and Department Chair, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York, 1950 – 1991.  Editor’s note: During his tenure at Hofstra, Dr. Swinney designed and equipped a new theatre, the John Cranford Adams Playhouse and later became its Director.  This theatre became rather famous as a “beta test site” for, among other things, the installation of the first of George C Izenour’s synchronous winch systems as well as the first generation of Century Lighting’s SCR dimmers.
  • Worked with John Cranford Adams on his portable, but otherwise authentic, Shakespearean platform stage
  • Designer, Technical Director, Stage Manager, and General Production Manager, Caramoor Festival of Music and Art, Katonah, New York (34 summers) — often working in association with Maestro Julius Rudel
  • Theatre Consultant numerous theatre projects around the world including the John F Kennedy Theatre in the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii and national theatres in Nicaragua and Guatemala.
  • Special Advisor and Consultant, Jean Rosenthal and Associates


  • Managing Editor, Theatre Design and Technology
  • All printed material of the Institute, except for the Journal, produced at Hofstra under Swinney’s supervision, 1968-1977)
  • Business Manager, Educational Theatre Journal

USITT Involvement and Offices Held:

  • Founding member
  • Founding Member, Engineering & Architecture Commissions Editor’s note: Dr. Swinney proposed working commissions be charged with originating and completing specific research tasks so the Institute would become a collaborate, high-level theatre information base of working professionals. To that end Dr. Swinney was the author of the first USITT research paper, “The exploration of the potential and application of point winches to stage rigging technology”
  • Chair of the Finance, Nominating, Awards, & Policy committees
  • Board of Directors (first elected at 3rd conference)
  • Worked as part of a group of early conference planners and organizers for all of the early NY conferences in the 1960s
  • Technical Secretary (1964-1965)
  • Third President, 1965 – 1968
  • Member, President’s Council and/or President’s Task Force. Editor’s note: This was a group of all of the former Presidents of the Institute that acted as an advisory board for the current Presidents
  • Director, Domestic Liaison activities
  • Board Member, New York Section

Awards and Honors: 

  • Elected USITT Fellow (originating class 1977)
  • USITT Special Citation, 1968
  • USITT Joel E. Rubin Founders Award (1977)
  • Founding Member, President, and Member of Accreditation Panel, National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) (1976-1981)
  • Board of Directors, ATA
  • Idaho Centennial Homecoming Award (given by Governor Cecil Andrus) for “impressive record of achievement in the fields of theatre design, directing, and theatre administration,” (1989)
  • Hofstra University Distinguished Service Medal (1990)