Professor of Theatre, University of Colorado at Boulder

Merrill Lessley joined the University of Colorado in 1988 as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and resident Dean of the Graduate School (1988-93) at the Colorado Springs campus (UCCS). In 1993, he served as the Interim Chancellor of that campus. Previous to 1988, he served as Dean of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts (1983-88) at San Diego State University and also as Chairperson for the Department of Theatre (1982-83). He received a BFA in theatre design from the University of Utah (1964), an MA in theatre design from the University of Minnesota (1966), and a Ph.D. in theatre history and criticism from the University of Utah (1969). He is a graduate of the Harvard Management Development Program, (1986), and the Harvard Institute for Educational Management (1988).

He joined the Theatre Department faculty at CU Boulder in 1994. Between 1994 and 1996, he served as Interim Chair for that department. He also served for one year as Interim Chair of the Department of Fine Arts. From 1997 to 2002, he served as Associate Dean for the Arts and Humanities at CU Boulder. In 2008, he will serve as Interim Director of the campus Honors Program. He has also served as co-director of the interdisciplinary Center for Humanities and Arts at CU Boulder.

His teaching assignments have included courses in the history and development of American theatre, stage lighting, acting, and a senior capstone seminar that examines issues of creative process. He has published numerous articles on stage lighting and special effects. He is co-author, along with Hunton D. Sellman, of the book Essentials of Stage Lighting. At the University of Colorado Boulder, he has designed the lighting for Fences, Equus, Crimes of the Heart, The Cherry Orchard, and Two Rooms. He has an extensive list of stage lighting design credits and occasionally publishes poetry. His current research involves the creation of computer controlled laser lighting effects that are designed to project moving images of specific mathematical curves that can be created primarily through the interaction of sine and cosine functions.