ArtsUNC Charlotte

Charlotte Professor CarlosAlexis Cruz Demonstrates Exceptional Commitment To Community

CarlosAlexis Cruz, an associate professor of theater at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has been honored with the 2024 Engaged Faculty Award by North Carolina Campus Engagement. This prestigious accolade is awarded annually to a faculty member across the state who demonstrates exceptional commitment to community engagement through teaching, scholarship, and leadership.

Presented during the NCCE’s 2024 PACE Conference at Guilford College, the award celebrates Cruz’s contributions to enhancing students’ learning and civic responsibility, conducting research with a community focus, fostering meaningful community partnerships, and promoting institutional commitments to service-learning and community engagement.

Since joining UNC Charlotte in 2013, Cruz has been a vibrant force in the Department of Theatre, specializing in physical theatre and circus arts. His notable contribution includes founding the Nouveau Sud Circus Project in 2014, after receiving a McColl Award from the Arts & Science Council. The project, which translates to “New South Circus,” aims to empower marginalized communities through contemporary circus performances that often highlight critical social justice issues, including immigration, race, and ethnicity.

Nouveau Sud has been influential in the community since its first production in April 2016. Its innovative approach to addressing societal issues through art earned it a $25,000 Celebrate Charlotte Arts grant from the Knight Foundation in 2019 and a Creation and Touring Grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts in 2020 for its production, “La Bestia.”

Cruz’s commitment to integrating his teaching with community engagement and his professional art practice is evident in his work. In 2021, he collaborated with Mexican American playwright Georgina Escobar to develop “MIGRANT X,” a play that delves into immigration policy through the real stories of Charlotte residents. The play, directed by Cruz and featuring performances by students and community members, premiered at UNC Charlotte, underscoring Cruz’s innovative approach to education.

Jennifer Troyer, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, praised Cruz’s impact: “Cruz’s performance strategies have enabled him to interweave teaching, service, and research in ways that position his classrooms as spaces of empowerment, providing real-world experiences that allow students to find their voices, share their skills and give a voice to communities in need. I am so pleased that he has been recognized with the Engaged Faculty Award.”

CarlosAlexis Cruz’s achievements underscore the significant role that educators can play in leveraging their expertise and passions to make a meaningful difference in the community and in the lives of their students.

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