A collage of re brick overlaid with the words "Kyle Gillette '01, Ph.D. Special Adviser to the Provost for Expression and Civil Discourse" (left) and a portrait of Kyle Gillette (right)
Kyle Gillette Named Special Adviser to the Provost
Theatre professor to help promote freedom of expression and civil discourse

Trinity University has appointed Kyle Gillette ’01, Ph.D., professor of human communication and theatre and former acting dean for the School of Arts and Humanities, as Special Adviser to the Provost for Expression and Civil Discourse. His appointment is effective January 1, 2024.

“I’m excited to join the Academic Affairs team. I look forward to working with Provost Mustain and others to help champion freedom of expression and academic freedom, values fundamental to the Trinity experience,” Gillette says.

Gillette will support the academic mission of Trinity by working to advance academic freedom and freedom of speech, creating spaces for robust public debate and dialogue among students, faculty, staff, and the public.

“Internally and externally, we are called to model genuine dialogue, encountering ambiguity and disagreement with curiosity and courageous humility,” says Megan Mustain, Ph.D., provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “As we answer that call as an academic community, I am confident that Kyle’s expertise and his demonstrated gift for creating spaces of encounter will serve us well. I look forward to learning with him and from him.”

Gillette joined Trinity’s Department of Human Communication and Theatre in 2008. His courses range from theatre history and dramatic literature seminars to performance laboratories where students reimagine ancient tragedy, explore modern realism, or experiment with avant-garde manifestos. Since joining Trinity Theatre, Gillette has served as a theatre director, creating spaces for students to express themselves through creative imagination and critical thinking.

Gillette’s new role will prevent him from teaching as many classes as he used to, but he hopes his “experience as a teacher, scholar, and director helps me facilitate conversations between diverse perspectives with honesty, care, and real listening.”

Reporting to Provost Mustain, Gillette will craft a strategic vision for creative initiatives and programming that explore and promote academic freedom and freedom of expression. His central responsibilities include establishing discussion forums, inviting lecturers, forming panels, staging debates, hosting conversations, and otherwise advancing opportunities to engage in civil discourse. Working with the Provost’s Council and colleagues across the University, he will also help develop programming and support collaborations with relevant cultural institutions in San Antonio.

“I hope to help craft a strategic vision that frames and supports this work to become as meaningful and intentional as it can be,” Gillette says. “That vision will include deeper collaborations across schools and divisions at Trinity as well as with museums, libraries, and other institutions in San Antonio.”

Gillette can’t wait to support creative work that fosters people’s appreciation of complexity and different perspectives. He got his first taste of this experience this past fall when, as acting dean for the School of Arts and Humanities, he helped plan and promote the inaugural Trinity Autumn Festival of the Arts, which gathered new and well-loved fall arts events featuring students, faculty, staff, and guest artists into one program.

Gillette says one of his favorite parts of his new role is hosting Trinity’s podcast Sentience, where he talks with faculty, students, administrators, and other guests about how people express and understand the world.

“Advancements in knowledge depend on people who boldly explore and express important ideas, especially when those ideas go beyond what people already think or find comfortable. When freedom of expression and academic freedom are curtailed, whether by powerful individuals or social pressure, culture stagnates,” Gillette says. “It is more urgent than ever for universities to offer what is sorely lacking in so much public discourse: spaces to encounter different ways of thinking with curiosity, open-minded engagement, and a good faith effort to understand.”

For 150 years, Trinity University has transformed challenge into boundless opportunity. Join the force in motion at www.trinity.edu.

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