Theatre VCU Professor, Marvin Sims, dies

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Marvin Sims: 1948-2003

Photo courtesy of VCU Department of Theatre
Marvin Sims: 1948-2003 Photo courtesy of VCU Department of Theatre

Marvin L. Sims, M.F.A., head of performance in the Department of Theatre in Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts recently passed away. He was 55 years old.

"Marvin was an incredible role model who brought a strong human element to everything he did," said David Leong, chair of VCU's Department of Theatre. "Not only did he help nurture others to become stronger in the theatre field, he genuinely cared about people and what they were feeling."

Sims taught classes in acting, directing, African-American theatre history, dramatic history and criticism courses at VCU.

At the time of his death, Sims was the current president of the Black Theatre Network and former board member of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Sims also was the first African-American to be elected president of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, an organization of individuals and institutions known for providing vision and leadership for the profession and promoting theatre education.

Some of Sims' directing credits at Theatre VCU included, "Thunder Knocking on the Door," and "The Trial of the One Short-Sighted Black Woman vs. Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae." Sims also helped found the Theatre of Diverse Voices, a student association and performance group at Theatre VCU that recognizes and highlights the talents of culturally diverse theatre students.

Sims earned his bachelor's degree from Capital University, and his Master of Arts from Miami University, both in Ohio. He received a Master's in Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and completed his doctoral studies at Michigan State University. Before coming to VCU in 1998, Sims taught at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and at Eastern Michigan University.

Sims' survivors include three children, Larissa Monet Sims of Chicago, Lorilie Marie Sims of Ashburn, Va., and Izak Immanuel Sims of Richmond, Va.

A memorial service will take place Saturday, Jan. 10 at 3 p.m. at VCU's Singleton Center for the Performing Arts' Raymond Hodges Theatre, 922 Park Ave.

To make a contribution to the Marvin L. Sims Memorial Scholarship Fund, please make checks payable to: "TheatreVCU Marvin Sims Memorial Scholarship Fund" and send to David Leong, Department of Theatre, 922 Park Ave., Richmond, Va., 23284-2524.