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Calvin “Cal” MacLean, head of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s theatre department and producing artistic director of the Clarence Brown Theatre, announced that he will retire August 1. Under MacLean’s direction, the department has become the eighth-ranked MFA acting program in the country and instrumental in the drive to build a new Carousel Theatre.

Calvin "Cal" MacLean

“In his 15 years as UT theatre department head and artistic director of the Clarence Brown Theatre company, Cal’s innovative vision and dedication have led the department to being one of the top 10 theatre programs in the country,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Year after year, he has worked with our theatre faculty and MFA students, as well as professional actors, to develop seasons featuring old favorites and new programming that challenge our audiences to think about the changing world around them. His legacy includes a transformational gift from UT System President Randy Boyd in honor of his wife, Jenny, to build a new Carousel Theatre and set the stage for UT theatre in the Knoxville community for many more years to come.”

MacLean created and implemented a program that brought professional playwrights to campus to develop new plays written specifically for Master of Fine Arts students in acting and design. He directed two of the plays—The Open Hand by Rob Caisley and, more recently, People Where They Are by Anthony Clarvoe—both of which were artistically and commercially successful.

“Community engagement has been a priority for Cal during his tenure; he has done an amazing job bringing a diverse group of people together to support the Clarence Brown Theatre,” said Margie Nichols, chair of the theatre’s advisory board. “The increased enthusiasm we have seen for the CBT will be an important piece of Cal’s lasting legacy.”

Throughout his tenure, MacLean directed several productions, most notably Amadeus, Sweeney Todd, and Candide with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, as well as other memorable productions including The Crucible, The Life of Galileo, Our Country’s Good, and Kiss Me, Kate.

He recently received the College Marshal award, the College of Arts and Sciences’ highest honor awarded to a faculty member.

The university will begin a search for MacLean’s replacement in the coming year. In the interim, Professor and Associate Department Head Casey Sams will serve as interim department head and Professor and Co-Artistic Director Kate Buckley will serve as interim artistic director.


Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375,

Robin Conklin (865-974-2497,