Educator and Writer Defies Expectations

Group on study abroad trip
Kirt leading a study abroad group in Brussels, Belgium.

By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)

Kirt Shineman, who received a B.A. in communication studies at CSU in 1998, is a tenured full professor at Glendale Community College in Arizona. He recently received the National Communication Association’s Golden Monograph Award for an article he co-authored, “Engendering Dystopia: The Performance of Torture at Guantanamo Bay Prison.” The award recognizes the outstanding scholarly article published in the discipline during the year. Shineman is the first community college faculty member to receive this award; exceeding expectations is a habit of his.

Kirt and Clark
Kirt with co-author Clark Olson receiving the award for the monograph they co-authored.

After earning the M.A. degree, he started teaching at Glendale Community College as an adjunct faculty member. Four years later, his position was made tenure track. For seventeen years, he served as director of the forensics (competitive speech) program as well as taught a very heavy course load. As forensics director, he was the sole coach of the team, having no assistants. He drove the team in vans to 15 tournaments a year, almost all out of state in California and Colorado, where they competed against colleges and universities. He did this on a shoestring budget with students who were balancing school with family and work. Despite these challenges, he raised the team’s national profile and prestige significantly. The American Forensics Association named it the top community college team in the country.

His heavy teaching load is illustrated by his 2019 fall semester courses. He taught six sections of Interpersonal Communication, two sections of Art of Storytelling, and one section of Film Comedy. He gets outstanding reviews from students. His promotions and tenure were based on his outstanding teaching, committee work and service to the school, and community service. No weight was given to his research and writing. Despite that, Shineman has produced not only outstanding scholarship but is an award-winning playwright.

Kirt working as dramaturg with two actors in a play.
Kirt working as dramaturg with two actors in a play.

He first started writing plays for his forensics students to perform. In 2011, he stepped down as director of forensics and completed an M.F.A. in dramatic writing during the evenings. He submits his plays to professional festivals around the country. As he has no agent, he sends out his material himself, which is incredibly time consuming  ̶  checking websites, calling theatres, sending emails, and working with unions and guilds.

His play “Good Grief” won the prestigious O’Neill award. It tells the story of a mother and son attending a study abroad program during which the son is killed by terrorists. This past September, the play was in the Producers’ Workshop in New York’s Athena Theatre. Several of his plays have been O’Neill finalists. “Allie Oop’s Last Fantastic Day” opened off Broadway at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre to a sold-out audience. “Forbidden Glass” played at the Emerging Artists Theatre in New York City and was a finalist for Pride Film and Play Festival in Chicago. “Germs and Viruses” was a finalist for the 2013 Kennedy Film and Play Festival in Chicago. “A Life Assembled” is a 2019 Finalist in the City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting. In all, he has written over 20 plays.

Despite the success of his plays, he remains a teacher at heart. As Shineman puts it: “Awards are just the icing; it is more how I can impact students.”  This alumnus simply is wired to exceed expectations.