Josefina Niggli Roundtable Interview

Participants: Kathy Wright, Steve Carlisle, Luther Jones, Peggy Dawson

Hosted by: Don Connelly

Technician: Aaron D’Innocenzi


Josephina Niggli, a beloved faculty member of the Western Carolina University community between 1956 and 1983, was an international screenplay writer, activist, and author who enriched the lives of the many students she taught while she was at Western Carolina.  Her background included many years in New York and Hollywood.  July 2010 marks the 100 year anniversary of Ms. Niggli’s birth.

Josefina Niggli Roundtable DiscussionIn addition to her many authored works, much has been written about Josephina Niggli.  One of the interesting aspects of this academic research is that we are often left wondering what kind of a woman was Josephina Niggli? 

As a part of a year long celebration of her contributions to Western Carolina we have gathered together four individuals who were colleagues and students of Josephina.  Today we are going to learn about Josephina Niggli, the woman.

My guests today are Steve Carlisle, associate dean of the honors college at Western Carolina University.  Steve was one of Miss Niggli’s students.  He graduated from Western and had a distinguished acting career working with people like Susan Sarandon, Paul Newman, Burt Reynolds, James Garner, and Jack Lemon among others.   

Peggy Dawson was a student at Western Josefina Niggli Roundtable DiscussionCarolina and was in some of the last classes Josephina taught at Western.  Peggy knew Josephina the last twelve years of her life.  Peggy has said that after her retirement we developed a relationship that was less student/teacher and more grasshopper/sensei.  Peggy says that what Josephina shared with her about life and an artist's view of it is what she considers her Master's degree.
Luther Jones is the University Theatre's designer/technical director and Western Carolina Stage Company's technical director. Luther was one of Miss Niggli’s students’ graduating from Western and going on to a career in theatre and motion pictures.  He has numerous film and television technical credits, including Last of the Mohicans, Patch Adams, My Fellow Americans, and The Legend of Bagger Vance among others.

Dr. Kathleen Wright is professor emeritus of the Department of Communication at Western Carolina.   Dr. Wright’s career with Western spanned 36 years.   Dr. Wrights accomplishments extended well beyond the classroom.  She was elected to the Faculty Senate for a period of 12 years and was twice elected Chair of the Faculty.  She also served five years as the head of the Communication and Theatre Department.  In 1996 Dr. Wright received the Paul A. Reid Service Award.

  Josefina Niggli Roundtable Discussion


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