DeAnna Toten Beard, Ph.D., Appointed Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

Long-serving Department of Theatre Arts chair to step into role July 1, 2023

April 2, 2023
DeAnna Toten Beard

DeAnna Toten Beard, M.F.A., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and professor of theatre history and dramaturgy, has been selected as vice provost for faculty affairs, effective July 1, 2023.

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WACO, Texas (April 3, 2023) – Following a six-month internal candidate search, Baylor University Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., announced today that DeAnna Toten Beard, M.F.A., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and professor of theatre history and dramaturgy, has been selected as vice provost for faculty affairs, effective July 1, 2023.

“Dr. Toten Beard has experience managing a complex department and understands the power of good listening and thoughtful communication in managing people and helping them develop professionally,” Provost Brickhouse said. “The faculty in her department hold her in high esteem because she expects a lot from them, yet also knows how to share decision-making with them. These successes, as well as her passion for good policies and systems, will serve her well as she works across the entire University to elevate the work of our faculty in support of Baylor’s strategic priorities.”

As vice provost for faculty affairs, Toten Beard will provide vision and leadership for all aspects of the faculty experience at Baylor to build a culture of excellence, shared governance, inclusion and holistic support commensurate with a Christian research university.

“After 20-plus years at Baylor, sharing experiences with a variety of campus programs, I look forward to collaborating with my fellow faculty members and staff from all academic areas to ensure that needs are being met at every career phase,” Toten Beard said. “There is much to be excited about, and I am eager to join the Office of the Provost in its work to move the University forward toward our shared goals within Illuminate and beyond.”

Since 2002, she has served many roles in the Department of Theatre Arts, including as associate chair from 2013-2018 and chair since 2018. Previously, she served as graduate program director from 2008-2015. In addition, she was named a Baylor Teaching Fellow in 2012. Dr. Toten Beard has also taught in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and served as co-director of the Baylor in Oxford study abroad program from 2014-2019.

Toten Beard earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Theatre History, Literature and Criticism from Indiana University, a Master of Fine Arts in Dramaturgy from Stony Brook University and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and English Literature from the University of Mary Washington.

She is an active historian with research interests in early 20th-century U.S. theatre and popular entertainment. Her specializations include depictions of World War I on the American stage, American modernist theatre literature and the history of modernist theatre design in the United States, which were the focus of her scholarly publications in such journals as Blackwell’s Companion to American Literature, Theatre Annual, Public Theatre and Theatre Publics, New England Theatre Journal and Theatre History Studies. She also has contributed numerous scholarly book reviews and reference articles for theatre history reference sources. For several years, she served as editor of The Texas Theatre Journal, published annually by the Texas Educational Theatre Association.

Toten Beard devotes professional service to the work of the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST), serving  as current NAST President and a member of the board of directors. From 2012-2017, she served as NAST ommissioner, chair of the Commission on Accreditation from 2017-2020 and vice president from 2020-2023. She has served as a visiting evaluator of theatre programs around the country for NAST accreditation. She also sits on the Board of the Council of Arts Accrediting Associations.

Toten Beard’s artistic work includes directing, including Sister Suffragettes (Baylor Theatre 2020), Who Am I This Time (Baylor Theatre 2017), The Underpants (Baylor Theatre 2015), Quartet with Grand Piano (Baylor Theatre 2012) and God and Mammon (Out of the Loop Festival 2005), which she also authored. Her original play Mount Abundance was given a staged reading at Baylor in 2021. Thanks to close collaborators in the Baylor Department of Film and Digital Media, Toten Beard also has appeared in several independent films, including Age of Bryce directed by Brian Elliott and David Feagan for which she won Best Comic Actress at the Garden State Film Festival (2020) and Best Actor (Female) at the On the Beach International Film Festival in Bulgaria (2020).

Toten Beard succeeds James Bennighof, Ph.D., who will conclude 20 years of service as vice provost for faculty affairs in May. After a sabbatical, Bennighof will return to the School of Music to conduct research and teach.

“Jim’s impact on Baylor University cannot be overstated. He has had enormous influence over the hiring and promotion of the faculty for the past 21 years,” Brickhouse said. “These decisions are arguably the most important decisions the University makes. Jim has been a selfless and principled leader."

Provost Brickhouse also thanked the eight-member search committee for their valuable time and service during the successful internal search process: Wes Null (chair), Julie deGraffenried, Cheryl Gochis, Coretta Pittman, Eric Robinson, Todd Still, Lisa Turner and Chuck Weaver.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.