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May 15, 2014/For Immediate Release (high res photo available)

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu



 Faculty Emeritus is honored for 40 years of service and allegiance to the school

WINSTON-SALEM – Faculty Emeritus Elaine Doerschuk Pruitt is the recipient of the 2014 Giannini Society Award at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. One of the school’s most prestigious honors, the award was presented at University Commencement on May 10.

The Giannini Society was established in 1989 and was named in honor of Vittorio Giannini, a founder and the first president of the School of the Arts. It is a group of dedicated ambassadors who seek to provide support for the training of UNCSA student-artists.

Previous recipients include founders, board members, alumni, volunteers and former chancellors.

Pruitt, who is retired after 35 years as teacher, administrator and executive at UNCSA, now serves on the boards of the Associates volunteer group and the UNCSA Foundation. She is a member of the Giannini Advisory Committee and the Kenan Excellence Scholarship Selection Committee

Interim Chancellor James Moeser presented the Giannini Society Award to Faculty Emeritus Elaine Pruitt at UNCSA’s University Commencement on May 10. (Photo by Allen Aycock)

“We are so fortunate to have her as a friend, supporter and advocate,” said Interim Chancellor James Moeser in presenting the award, given in recognition of Pruitt’s “extraordinary allegiance to the school.”

Accepting the award, Pruitt spoke of important events and ideals in the school’s founding, as documented in “A Passionate Preference,” a history of the school’s founding in 1960’s through 1984, written by Leslie Banner and published in 1987. As co-chair of UNCSA’s 50th Anniversary Committee, Pruitt is writing a book detailing the school’s history since 1985.

Elaine Doerschuk Pruitt has officially been associated with UNCSA since 1975, but her experience with the school dates back to 1969.  That’s when she graduated from high school and went to UNC-Greensboro to study music. While in high school she played the cello in a string quartet and the other members of the quartet came to college at the new North Carolina School of the Arts.  She visited her friends on campus on the weekends. 

Three years into her college experience she changed majors and graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a B.A. in history.  After earning her M.A. in history, she taught briefly at UNC-Charlotte before coming to NCSA to teach history and social studies in what was then called the division of Academic Studies.  Her intention, in the fall of 1975, was to stay at NCSA for a short while before moving on to other things.  However, NCSA took hold and she continued teaching in what became known as the Division of General Studies until the spring of 2003. She married a fellow instructor in the Division of General Studies, William (Bill) Pruitt, who later served as chief academic officer (then called vice chancellor for Arts and Academic Programs) for Chancellors Jane Milley, Alex Ewing and Wade Hobgood before retiring in 2002. 

Elaine Pruitt mostly taught in the General Studies college division, but also taught some high school social studies classes, including a course in advanced placement American history.  She loved combining her arts training with her academic background and furthered those connections through three grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  She studied British culture in the 18th century and ethnomusicology at the University of California at Berkeley and the American South as myth and symbol at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also loved sharing what she had learned and in 1996 received an Excellence in Teaching award from NCSA. While a member of the NCSA faculty, Pruitt was active in all aspects of faculty governance and in particular was an advocate of establishing a teaching and learning center at the school. For several years she served on a UNC system-wide consortium of teaching and learning centers.

In 2003, Pruitt was named dean of General Studies, succeeding Margaret Mertz, who  became executive director of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts.  During the 2003-2004 academic year the Division of General Studies was separated into a high school division and an undergraduate academic division and she was then named associate vice chancellor for Undergraduate Academic and Graduate Programs.  While serving in that role she oversaw the reaccreditation of the school from 2004-2006. 

In 2006 Chancellor John Mauceri named Pruitt chief academic officer. During her time in that post (now called provost) the school became known as the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) and it changed from a trimester academic calendar to a semester academic calendar, necessitating a change in the curriculum of each school.  She initially retired from UNCSA in July of 2009, but came back for eight months as chief academic officer in 2010.  Upon her retirement the UNCSA Board of Trustees granted her the status of faculty emeritus.

Since retiring Pruitt has remained active as a supporter of UNCSA.  She is currently a member of the board of the Associates, a member of the Giannini Advisory Committee, a member of the Kenan Excellence Scholarship Selection Committee, a member of the board of directors of the UNCSA Foundation and the co-chair of the 50th Anniversary Committee. She is equally dedicated to several state and local organizations and institutions, including Forsyth Futures, where she is a board member; UNC-Greensboro, where she is a member of the Graduate Advisory Council; and First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), where she is active in children’s programming and community outreach projects. 


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.