Dr. Stephanie Milling, professor in the dance program, has been honored by the National Dance Education Organization with its 2020 Outstanding Leadership Award. She will be presented with the award at the organization’s virtual National Awards Ceremony on September 10. Dr. Milling is one of only six dance professionals in the country to be recognized this year.
The NDEO states that the Outstanding Leadership Award “is given to an individual who has demonstrated excellence in creating ideas for programs, curriculum, and/or projects that have had a significant impact on the field of dance education and who has demonstrated leadership at the local, state, regional, national, or international level.” Established in 1998, the NDEO is a leading voice in advocating for the value of dance in education and serves its membership by providing research and professional development opportunities.
“NDEO is on the forefront of dance education in every way possible,” Milling says. “I’ve been a member since 2004 and the people that I’ve met and professional opportunities I’ve gotten through the organization have just been incredible. I go to the national conference every year and truly feel replenished for the next year.”
Dr. Milling heads UofSC’s Dance Education track and is the interim Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. Outside of the University, she is currently the Advocacy Director for the NDEO, and has served in the past as President of the South Carolina Arts Alliance, member of the Arts Education Council member for Americans for the Arts, and an editorial board member for The Journal of Movement Arts Literacy, Dance Education in Practice, and Arts Education Policy Review.
Receiving the award is especially heartwarming, she says, because it is also being presented to her longtime mentor, Dr. Susan Kirchner. “She’s been a presence in my life since I was an undergrad,” says Milling of her former professor. “She’s written letters of recommendation for me, mentored me through research, and even helped me pick a Ph.D. program to attend. She’s just been a very powerful feminist presence in my life, so to be virtually standing beside her to receive this award is just a full circle experience.”
“What this award does is recognize someone’s work in the field beyond its immediate context,” Milling says of the honor. “To be recognized in that way, especially by the national professional organization in your field, is extremely humbling.”