WILKES-BARRE — The head of the King’s College theatre arts program issued an apology Thursday evening for statements she made to The Times Leader and messages she posted on social media websites a day prior. And the school reiterated its support for the future of the program.
In a five-paragraph statement given “in response to the recent media coverage and social media postings about King’s College’s plans to invest in the future of” two of its programs, the college said it sought “to provide clarity on the issue, dispel inaccurate rumors and explain the shared commitment toward a promising future for the programs and the college.”
The statement was spurred by postings and statements disseminated by M. Sheileen Corbett, chairwoman of the Theatre Department at King’s, who advised alumni and supporters of the theater that there was no plan, no funding for a plan and that decisions were made without the theatre department’s involvement to relocate the department and the program itself to the former Memorial Presbyterian Church on West North Street.
The church building has gone mostly unused since the college acquired it in 2011.
The Physician Assistant Studies program would expand into space currently used by the theater on the first floor of the administration building, she had told people. But King’s spokesman John McAndrew said that’s the leading option on the table, though no final decisions have been made. The college’s release contradicted Corbett’s previous statements that she had not been apprised of the discussions.
“I acted emotionally, and my comments were not accurate,” Corbett said in a school-issued statement on her behalf. “I made a terrible mistake. The fact is that King’s has always been supportive of the theatre program. … The plan to move out of the current theatre and into the North Street Church is exciting for the program and, most importantly, for our students, but it will take everyone’s effort for it to succeed. I know my attachment to and history in the current space caught me at a weak moment, and I acted inappropriately. I apologize for embarrassing the college and the program. I sincerely hope that I can be part of the solution moving forward.”
The chairwoman of the physician assistant program, Diana Easton, said she is excited for the potential growth of her department but that “we all recognize that growth and success do not come without some bumps in the road.”
The Rev. Jack Ryan, the college’s president, said that as a liberal arts school, programs such as the theater are essential to well-rounded education experiences. He said change must come to move the college forward and noted that that change will include investing in the theater program.
“Creating change to improve the college’s position and advance its mission has consequences, both intended and unintended,” Ryan said. “Working to always improve the experiences for our students is not an option; it is our responsibility and our commitment.”