ATCA confers Emeritus honor on Dan Sullivan, critic, mentor, friend

ATCA confers Emeritus honor on Dan Sullivan, critic, mentor, friend

The ATCA Executive Committee voted this week to confer lifetime Emeritus Membership – one of its highest honors – on Dan Sullivan, the veteran critic, educator, mentor and co-founder of ATCA.

Emeritus standing is awarded only to a small cadre of members and former members who have established outstanding careers, furthered the future of the profession and significantly contributed to the organization itself.

Sullivan, 82, of Minneapolis, served as general assignment reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, theater critic for the Minneapolis Tribune (1961-64), the off-Broadway critic for The New York Times (1966-69), and high-profile critic for The Los Angeles Times from 1969-1991, where he was renowned for his insight and wit.

Among colleagues, he is equally respected for mentoring scores and scores of young and mid-career critics while leading the National Critics Institute at the O’Neill Theatre Center from 1999-2013. He also also taught journalism at the University of Minnesota.

Dan Sullivan (right) in a familiar scene: gently mentoring at the National Critics Institute

Although he professed a dislike for groups, he was persuaded in the summer of 1974 to join with Henry Hewes, Richard Coe, Brendan Gill, Norman Nadel, Elliot Norton and Lawrence DeVine among others to create the national critics organization. He has remained active in ATCA for many years, including co-hosting the Los Angeles conferences in 1986 and 2005 with Sylvie Drake.

Sullivan was originally recommended for this distinction by ATCA’s Membership Committee led by Anne Siegel.
Other recipients of the Emeritus honor have been: Tish Dace, Lawrence DeVine, Marianne Evett, Welton Jones, Glenn Loney, Julius Novick, and deceased members Ira J. Bilowit, Claudia Cassidy, Richard Coe, Henry Hewes, Clara Hieronymus, Ann Holmes, Beatrice MacLeod, Norman Nadel, Elliot Norton, Ernie Schier and Gerald Weales.

The honor has existed for more than 15 years but new, more specific language codifying its criteria was approved by the Executive Committee this week. It reads: “It may occasionally happen that a member of ATCA who has made extraordinary contributions to both the organization and the profession will retire or announce a significant reduction in intended writing on theater. In those instances, Emeritus Member status may be conferred by a vote of the Executive Committee in recognition of no less than twenty years of the member’s contribution to the profession and service to ATCA. Care should be taken to avoid conferring the honor so often that it belittles its importance. Lifetime Emeritus members do not pay dues, and retain all the rights and privileges of Full Membership except the right to run for the Board.”

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