Sylvia Hillyard Pannell

SylviaHPannell_(3)Athens, Georgia

Inducted as a Fellow: 1995

Your earliest memories of the Institute?

I joined USITT in 1976 and served on the local arrangements committee for the conference held that year in New Orleans. AS a Past President and Fellow of the Institute, I have served on all USITT committees including but not limited to Finance, and Grants & Fellowships, Awards, and Publications Committees. I have worked with the Costume Design & Technology Commission since its inception and am active with USITT’s international initiatives.

Short list of career highlights:

  • Professor Emerita, Department of Theatre and Film Studies University of Georgia.
  • B.S. degree in Clothing and Textiles and the Master of Fine Arts in Theatrical Design from Florida State University.
  • Theatrical designer and educator for over three decades,  with experiences include designing for both film and stage.  Previous teaching appointments include Southwest Missouri State University, the University of New Orleans and Tulane University.
  • Designed costumes for hundreds of productions for, among others, the Asolo State Theater, Sarasota, FL, the College Light Opera Company at Highfield in Falmouth, MA, the Highlands Playhouse, and for the Jekyll Island Musical Comedy Festival.
  • General manager of the Jekyll Island Musical Comedy Festival from 1983-88.
  • Research includes the life and work of the late Broadway costume designer Freddy Wittop: Tony award winner for 
  • Conducting research on the designers who provided the sets and costumes for the Music Halls of Paris between WWI and WWII.

Short list of your involvement in the Institute: see above

Houston 2008 USITT Banquet—Sylvia’s swansong! Left to rt—Sylvia,  Jack Cunningham, Heather Cunningham, Rebecca Cunningham (she received a distinguished achievement award in costume design that year), Tim Kelly and, of course, Zee (looking particularly cool in her shades)!


Anything you'd like to add about what the USITT means to you personally?

I am grateful to the United States Institute for Theater Technology for providing the professional bedrock and network upon which I have relied on as a theatrical designer and educator.


  • Essay on Freddy Wittop published in Late & Great: American Designer 1960-2010.
  • Co-author of Varieties of Theatrical Art,  an Introduction to Theater textbook and
  • Many articles for Theater Design and Technology (TD&T)
  • TD&T book review editor.

Contact: See Membership Directory & Resource Guide

Sylvia with the Board at her first Board of Directors meeting held in Syracuse, October 2007