Paul Kassel, Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts

MFA, May 1983, Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory Thesis Performance: Edmund Kean—A Muse of Fire
BA in Theater and Communications, May 1981, Miami University of Ohio

Check out Dean Kassel’s newsletter – “Playing: Notes on the art and craft of acting” 

Paul Kassel is the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and a full professor in the School of Theatre and Dance at Northern Illinois University. Dean Kassel manages the operation of the Schools of Art and Design, Music, and Theatre and Dance. He also oversees the operations of the NIU Museum and the Community School of the Arts (CSA).

In addition to responsibility for the financial management, Dean Kassel guides the fulfillment of the mission and vision of the college. Working closely with the School Directors, the Directors of the Museum and CSA, and the Directors of Development and Marketing, Dean Kassel has grown the College’s presence on campus and in the region. He has newly established the Advisory Council, which membership spans the arts disciplines, business partners, and major cultural institutions including the Goodman Theatre and the Chicago Sinfonietta.

From July 2013 to July 2015 he was Interim Dean for School of Fine and Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz, and Associate Dean for two years prior to that. Dean Kassel was a professor of Theatre Arts at SUNY New Paltz (2004-2016) and at Stony Brook University (1998-2004) where he taught acting, voice, movement, directing, and directed plays. He was Head of Acting at Bradley University from 1993-1998.

Dean Kassel’s book, Acting: An Introduction to the Art and Craft of Playing, was published by Pearson in spring of 2006. A new book, The Actor’s Path: An Evolutionary Approach to the Art and Craft of Playing, is currently being revised. In addition to his books, Dean Kassel’s scholarly work includes several publications and many conference presentations on acting and performance theory. Publications include “The Four Fundamental Verbs (Theatre Topics V9. N2) and “Random Acts”–an essay on applying an action-based approach to non-realistic theatre in Method Acting Reconsidered: Theory, Practice, Future (St. Martin’s Press, 2000). He is the managing editor of The Players’ Journal, an e-journal by and for actors and teachers of acting. In New York City for eleven years as a professional actor, director, and writer, Dean Kassel worked off, and off-off-Broadway, in regional theaters, and in several films and television shows.

He has written four original plays (including The Velvet Pumpernickel, which was produced at the Sanford Meisner Theatre in New York City), and several adaptations (including an updated, musical version of Lysistrata for which he also wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music). Dean Kassel has maintained his professional career since entering academia, most recently performing the role of “Reverend Wilson” in a staged reading in New York City of a new musical, The Life and Hard Times of Hester Prynne (book and score by Stephen Cheslik-deMeyer, who wrote Lizzie). He has acted and directed for Half Moon Theatre Company and River Valley Rep, two professional theatre companies in the Hudson Valley. On Long Island, he was the founding artistic director of Asylum Theatre Company, for which he performed and directed. He also devised the original play, What Remains—Long Island Voices of 9/11, which toured throughout the area. Professor Kassel received his M.F.A. in Performance from the Florida State/Asolo Conservatory of Professional Actor Training.

He is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Screen Actors’ Guild/American Federation of Radio and Television Artists. Professional associations include the International Conference of Fine Arts Deans, the Alliance of Arts in Research Universities, the National Conference of Arts Administrators, and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.

Honors Faculty Fellow (2021-2022)

As an Honors Faculty Fellow, Dean Kassel will teach a seminar on the Evolution of Art in fall 2021 in the University Honors Program. The Honors Faculty Fellowship program identifies faculty eager to teach innovative, exciting seminars of interest to highly-motivated students from across the university.

Who’s Who in America 2023-2024

The Marquis Who’s Who Publication Board added Paul to the 2023-2024 Who’s Who in America. Inclusion is limited to individuals who possess professional integrity, demonstrage outstanding achievement in their respective field and have made innumerable contributions to society as a whole. 




Philosophy of Teaching Goals of Actor Training Teaching Experience Philosophy of Teaching Skills can be taught in a semester, but artistry must be learned over a lifetime. In the classroom, whether it is a practical performance-oriented course or a seminar on...


Books and Book Chapters The Actor’s Path: An Evolutionary Approach to the Art and Craft of Playing. E-book in development. Anticipated launch Spring 2019. Acting: An Introduction to the Art and Craft of Playing. Allyn & Bacon. Boston. April 2006. “Random...


I am continually engaged in chronicling, reviewing, and critically analyzing the performance experience with intention for publication. It is important to articulate the performance process, not only from a historical or theoretical position, but from an experiential...

Professional Experience

Acting View production photos I have trained in a variation of the Meisner technique, studied the major methods in New York and have a strong classical background. However, I believe there is no single way or method to create a role or craft a performance. My primary...

Administrative Experience

Program Management Supervise all undergraduate and graduate degree programs Supervise ~ 200 public visual and performing arts programs and events Work with senior administration on public/private initiatives, including Argonne National Laboratories, City of DeKalb,...

Professional Development

Professional Studios Joel Friedman:  Scene Study.  New York, NY.  1986-1991 Jana Pivacek:  Bel Canto Vocal Studies.  New York, NY. 1984-1989 Gillian Goll:  Scene Study.  New York, NY.  1988-1989 John Guitz:  Method Acting.  New York, NY.  1985 Workshops and...



Northern Illinois University

  • Dean’s Council
  • Strategic Enrollment Management Committee
  • Resource, Budget, Space Committee
  • Rules, Governance Committee
  • Management Bargaining Team
  • UNIV 101 Redesign Committee

SUNY New Paltz

  • Liberal Education Committee–Co-Chair
  • Advising Task Force
  • Strategic Planning Presidential Ad Hoc Committee
  • Organization Committee Co-Chair
  • Associate Deans Committee
  • Evolutionary Studies Advisory Board
  • Central Committee on Promotion and Discretionary Salary Increases
  • Academic Senate
  • Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Advisory Board
  • Undergraduate College Advisory Committee.
  • Middle States Accreditation Subcommittee on the First Year Experience

Bradley University

  • Affirmative Action Committee (chair)
  • Women’s Studies Program Committee


   Association of American Colleges and Universities

  • Team Leader. Northern Illinois University. Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success.  “Creative Path to College Success.”  Boston University.  Boston, MA. 2017.
  • Team member. SUNY New Paltz. Institute on Integrative Learning. University of Vermont.  Burlington, VT.
  • Team member. SUNY New Paltz.  General Education and Assessment Conference.  University of Vermont.  Burlington, VT.

  Middle States Commission on Higher Education

  • Site visit team member.  8-10 April 2020.
  • Manhattan School of Music. Site visit team member.  9-11 April 2018.
  • Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. Site Visit team member. 7-10 April 2013.

  Academic Program Review

  • East Stroudsberg University. Program Evaluation.  Department of Theatre.
  • Dutchess County Community College. Program Review.  Department of Theatre.
  • Hunter College. Site visit.  Lead author of narrative.  April 2006.

  Tenure and Promotion External Evaluator

  • Wheaton College
  • Denison University
  • Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
  • Miami University of Ohio—Oxford
  • Brooklyn College
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Miami University of Ohio—Hamilton
  • University of New Hampshire
  • Cornell University

Professional Membership

  • International Conference of Fine Arts Deans
  • National Council of Arts Administrators
  • Arts Alliance of Research Universities
  • Actors’ Equity Association
  • Screen Actors’ Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
  • The Association for Theatre in Higher Education
  • American College Theatre Festival
  • Alpha Psi Omega (National Theatre Honorary Society)

Awards and Grants

Professional Studios

  • Joel Friedman:  Scene Study.  New York, NY.  1986-1991
  • Jana Pivacek:  Bel Canto Vocal Studies.  New York, NY. 1984-1989
  • Gillian Goll:  Scene Study.  New York, NY.  1988-1989
  • John Guitz:  Method Acting.  New York, NY.  1985

Workshops and Masterclasses

  • Teacher Development Workshop.  The Actor’s Center.  New York, NY.  June 2000
    • Vjatcheslav Dolgatchev:  Moscow Art Theatre Actor Training Technique
    • Robert Cohen: Scene Study, Shakespeare/Shaw
    • Catherine Fitzmaurice:  Voice workshop
  • Patrick Tucker:  Shakespeare Masterclass.  American Globe Theatre.  New York.  September 2000
  • Webster Movement Institute.  Webster University.  St. Louis, MO.  June 1995
    • Karen Bradley, Tom Casciero:  Laban Movement Pre-Certification Program
    • Jennifer Martin:  Period Movement/Period Dance
  • Webster Movement Institute.  Webster University.  St. Louis, MO.  June 1994
    • Tom Casciero:  Laban Movement Analysis and Training
    • Craig Turner:  Martial Arts Training for Actors
    • Libby Appel:  Character Mask
    • Vidisha Mallik and Ed Damron:  Commedia Mask

Conference Workshops and Masterclasses

  • William Esper:  Meisner Masterclass.  ATHE 2000
  • Neil Freeman:  Shakespeare Masterclass.  ATHE 1999
  • Leon Ingulsrud:  Experiencing Viewpoints.  ATHE 1999
  • Augusto Boal: Theatre of the Oppressed Workshop.  ATHE 1996
  • Joanne Akalaitis:  The Body in Space.  ATHE 1995
  • Bella Itkin:  Scene Study.  ATHE 1995
  • Kathryn Gately, Richard Poole:  Meisner Workshop.  ATHE 1994
  • William Shephard:  Mythic Performance.  ATHE 1994
  • Will Kilroy, Mala Powers, Lisa Dalton: Michael Chekhov Technique.  ATHE 1993
  • Sonia Moore:  Stanislavski Masterclass.  ATHE 1993
  • Kristin Linklater:  Shakespeare Sonnets Masterclass.  ATHE 1993
  • Norma Bowles:  Commedia Del Arte workshop.  ATHE 1992