Arts Achievement Awards

Arts Achievement Awards

The Arts Achievement Awards originated in 1975 and has been a long standing Presidential level ceremony to celebrate the outstanding career achievements of Wayne State University alumni and former students from the programs that comprise the College of Fine Performing and Communication Arts. Exceptional career achievement appropriate for recognition includes research, creative work, performance, publication, advocacy, composition, exhibition, education, discovery, management and /or leadership in their profession or artistic practice.

We are very fortunate to have distinguished alumni who through their accomplishments bring great notoriety and honor to the College and to Wayne State. We believe it is important to acknowledge these achievements and hold them up as models for our current and prospective students. Actor and producer James Lipton, film, stage and television actress S. Epatha Merkerson, artists Ellen Phelan and John Egner, renowned tenor George Shirley, Detroit jazz legend Yusef Lateef, Pulitzer prize winner and Poet Laureate Philip Levine, and former Howard University President Sidney Ribeau, among many other distinguished artists and professionals have been past recipients of the Arts Achievement Award.

Join us as we celebrate 42 years of history and this year's special honorees.  View photos from the event HERE

The 2021 Arts Achievement Award winners are...


2021 Career Achievement Award in Communication 

Darren Haynes

Darren M. Haynes is a nine-time Emmy award-winning sports anchor.

Darren is currently the Sports Director and Main Sports Anchor at WUSA in Washington D.C.  He also anchored at ESPN. During his time at the World-Wide Leader, he anchored SportsCenter, ESPN's flagship program. His career includes the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, NASCAR Cup Series Championship, World Series and more.

As a sports anchor, Darren has won numerous awards. He won multiple Emmy awards for Best Sports Anchor, Team Coverage, and for Editorial and Commentary. He's a five-time Associated Press Sportscaster of the year recipient and received the 2017 and 2018 A. P. Best News Anchor award for his outstanding editorial and commentary. In 2016, he was inducted into the Amity High School Hall of Honor and the New Haven Football Hall of Fame in his home state of Connecticut.

Darren has been recognized as one of the "Most Influential Blacks" by the NAACP. His work goes beyond sports. Darren is passionate about serving in his church and community with organizations such as Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association, U.S. Armed Forces and INROADS, Inc. He received the "Outstanding Leadership Award" for his work with the Pregnant and Parenting Teens Program as well as the "Media Recognition Award" for his fight against domestic violence with the Love Life Now Foundation.

In 2007, Darren launched the Junior Broadcast Program that has helped hundreds of aspiring journalists achieve their dreams in the media industry. His motivational speeches help individuals increase confidence and use personal power to activate their ideal life. The program currently mentors more than 500 young men and women. Darren is also the founder of Destined for Change. This program is dedicated to making a CHANGE in the world by inspiring, making an impact, and uplifting our young adults. Darren personally donates neckties to the young men to prepare them for the professional world. His work within the community continues with the Second Chance Prison Ministry where he helps create a plan for success for inmates at local prisons and recovery houses.

Darren is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Media Arts and Studies. He's a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and the National Association of Black Journalists. Above all of Darren's professional awards and accomplishments, his greatest achievement is being a husband and father.

2021 Career Achievement Award in Theatre & Dance

Kathryn Ervin

Kathryn Ervin is a Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Theatre Arts at California State University San Bernardino. She is a graduate of Wayne State University and Illinois State University. She teaches courses in Directing, Acting, Creative Drama and African American Theatre and Film and Culture.

Kathryn Ervin began her relationship with Wayne State University when she saw a production of BLUES FOR MR CHARLIE by James Baldwin at the Bonstelle Theatre. It influenced the creation of SATORI, a Detroit Youtheatre she co-founded with Michael Dinwiddie.

She earned her BFA in Acting in 1978 . Roles included: chorus member in DARK OF THE MOON (75),  FIVE ON THE BLACKHAND SIDE (77)  and MOON ON A RAINBOW SHAWL (78) . Later she was a chorus Urchin in ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT (77) starring Phil Fox (the Box Office Manager) and Nira Pullin (The choreographer and movement teacher). Her last performance was in BLACK PICTURE SHOW(78) directed by Larry Hughes where she also served as Lighting Designer. With her skills in organizing, watching and listening and working with Martin Molson she stage managed the WSU Black Theatre Tour (78) and took Black theatre across Michigan. Plays from the Black Theatre and Acting classes provided a foundation for her teaching and artistic practices.

 In those shows she learned to collaborate, work hard and take in the story and tell it. Of course, she made cherished friends.

She has directed drama's comedies and musicals. Recent work includes; ROWING TO AMERICA, IN THE HEIGHTS, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, and INVISIBLE a play based on The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and HG Wells. Her original production of the hip hop opera KEEP HEDZ RINGIN' by Rickerby Hinds was a finalist at the KCACTF in Utah and presented as part of the NYC Hip Hop Theatre Festival in 2002. She is the author with Ethel Pitts Walker of An African American Scenebook.

She is a founder and fourth president for the Black Theatre Network, the national organization for artists, scholars and individuals with an interest in celebrating the beauty and complexity of black life onstage. She is a member of the California Educational Theatre Association. The Association for Theatre in Higher Education and The California Arts Project. She was recently inducted as a fellow in the Kennedy Center American Theatre College of Fellows.


2021 Career Achievement Award in Art & Art History

Carole Harris

Carole Harris Upon graduating from Wayne State University, Carole began a long journey as  a fiber artist and interior designer.  For the next 41 years Carole was engaged successfully in both career paths, until her retirement from the world of interior design in 2008 to exclusively work as a studio artist.  In 1976, Carole started her own interior design firm after working for such esteemed institutions as the J.L. Hudson company, Albert Kahn and Associates, Argonaut (the Architectural Division of General Motors) and Nathan Johnson and Associates Architects (one of, if not the first registered African American Architects in Michigan).  As an entrepreneur and owner of her own design firm for over 32 years Carole was fortunate to work with many of southeast Michigan's major education, healthcare, hospitality and industrial institutions.  As a fiber artist, beginning with her earliest exhibition around 1972, Carole's work has been exhibited worldwide and have included a number of honors, including a 2015 Kresge Fellowship, an invitation to tour and lecture in China, and in 2018 Carole was honored to be the Commencement speaker at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.  Carole's work is included in several Museums and collections including The Montgomery, Alabama Museum of Art, The Michigan State Folk Art Museum, the Cranbrook Museum of Art, The Mott-Warsh Collection (Flint MI) and most importantly, the James Pearson Duffy Collection of Art, Wayne State University. Earlier this year Carole's work was featured in a solo exhibit at the Hill Gallery, Birmingham, MI.  Upcoming exhibitions in early 2022 include solo exhibits in New York City and the Grand Rapids Museum of Art.  

2021 Career Achievement Award in Music

DeLashea Strawder

Delashea Strawder - A champion of arts and culture and its inherent ability to motivate, empower and mobilize, DeLashea Strawder celebrates every opportunity to inspire individuals and communities to embrace the arts as vehicles for positive change. She is the Executive & Artistic Director of the internationally acclaimed Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, a creative youth development organization that uses the arts to mentor, empower, and support youth to thrive. As an artist and arts administrator working at the intersection of education, arts & culture, and social justice Strawder knows firsthand how music and theater can foster engagement, transform communities, increase opportunity, and promote equity.

2021 CFPCA Dean's Art Advocacy Award

Alan Lichtenstein

Al Lichtenstein Upon graduating from Wayne State University, Al Lichtenstein began producing and presenting theatrical events in Detroit on 11/11/77. Al was hired as the Artistic Director of the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts.  Al was able to increase the number of performances from 73 to 238 and developed a weekly 7 show dance series (3,000 subs) which included Alvin Ailey (17 times) Pilobolus and the San Francisco Ballet.  A Headliner Series Ray Charles with Marcus Belgrave, Ella Fitzgerald with Joe Pass and Detroit's Tommy Flannagan Trio, Sarah Vaugh and Count Basie, 4 Girls 4, and Cleo Lane and John Dankworth. A keyboard series Dave Brubeck with Jack Brokensha, Oscar Petersen, Bill Evans with Carmen De Lavellade, Marion McPartland with Bess Bonnier. A Family Series including Harry Blackstone Jr. and Big Band Series. Finally, an eight-week run of Your Arms Are Too Short Too Box with God with Jennifer Holiday. 

In 1980, Al reopened the Masonic Temple with Sesame Street Live and David Copperfield and a Theatre Series with KING and I with YUL BRYNER, CAMELOT with RICHARD HARRIS, ONE MO TIME and,.PHYLLIS NEWMAN in the MAD WOMAN OF CENTRAL PARK WEST and AMERICAN BALLET THEATER withMIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV.

In 1981, Al became the Executive Director of the Nederlander Company in Detroit presenting over 100 Broadway shows at the Fisher Theater and Masonic Temple including Angels in America, Hamilton, Phantom (6), Les Miz. (12). In addition, Al has produced the 35th Anniversary Tour of FIDDLER, and Dial M for Murder with Roddy MacDowell, Karen Allen and John James. The Broadway engagement of WAIT UNTIL DARK with QUENTIN TARRANTINO, STEVEN LANG and MARiSA TOMEI.

Al presently programs all the Broadway shows in the Fisher Theater, Opera House, and Music Hall for ATG (Ambassador Theater Group). Back in 2001 with Harry Nederlander Al set up the APPLE AWARD (Sara Applebaum Nederlander) Visiting Artist Award at WSU Theater department to celebrate the 40 Anniversary of the Fisher Theater.