By Mariam Elsayed
Kenny East, 56, Assistant Professor in the Performing Arts Program of the College of Arts and Sciences at American University of Sharjah (AUS), died unexpectedly on Thursday, February 20, 2014 in Malta where he was attending an academic conference.
According to an official email from AUS Acting Provost Dr. R. Malcolm Richards, East was in Malta attending an archaeoacoustics conference when he met his untimely death due to coronary complications. Archaeouacoustics deals with the use of acoustical study as a methodological approach within archaeological pursuits.
A resident of the US state of Texas, East held a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Delaware and joined AUS in September 2010. He was an active academic and vigorous theatre enthusiast who, in his lifetime, had designed and produced over 200 plays and theater events in 11 countries around the world.
According to Dr. Richards, East is survived by his mother, Alma East, and his siblings who are in Texas. “Ken’s father passed away only 11 months ago, so this is a double tragedy for his mother,” said Dr. Richards.
Members of the AUS community remembered him fondly and expressed sadness at his passing. After she heard the news, mass communications senior student Farah Morra, who worked closely with East on several AUS theatre productions, called him a friend and mentor, and likened him to “a second father.” The late professor would, she wrote on her Facebook page, “forever be in my heart. The Performing Arts Program will never be the same without him.”
Also on Facebook, recent AUS graduate Shorouq Zakaria posted that the “hardest moment that ever passed was a phone call that told me professor Ken East has passed away.”
In his email to the university community, AUS Acting Chancellor Dr. Thomas Hochstettler said, “Ken is indeed missed, but he remains still very much a part of the ongoing and growing tradition of fine theater at AUS. May his soul find peace.”
AUS Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Catherine Moran said East had “guided me through the arts program. He was a great man and no one has a bad memory of him. It is a great loss for all of us.”
The planned February 25, 2014 screening of a documentary about the AUS theatre program was postponed upon the news of East’s death.
Faculty and student of the Performing Arts Program of the American University of Sharjah held a memorial event for the beloved professor on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 in the university's Arts Building Rotunda
Mariam Elsayed is a Mass Communication student at American University of Sharjah.