AMERICUS (April 21, 2014)— Ray Mannila, theater technical coordinator for the Department of Theater, Communication and Media Arts, is Georgia Southwestern State University’s 2014 Featured Public Servant. The announcement was made today.
A reception to honor him is scheduled for Wednesday, April 30 at 4 p.m. in the rotunda of the Wheatley Administration Building.
Initiated in 2008 by GSW President Kendall A. Blanchard, Ph.D., this award is presented to an employee of Georgia Southwestern who makes valuable contributions to the community where he or she lives and works. It is also a way to remind the larger Americus community that Georgia Southwestern faculty and staff play an important role in the social and cultural life of that community.
“Ray Mannila is one of those professionals who does it all,” Blanchard said. “His behind-the-scene contributions to both campus and community life are many and his talents unlimited. I fear that, should he leave Georgia Southwestern, we would have to hire several people to replace him.”
Mannila is indeed flattered by the recognition and is quick to thank those that support him in his efforts.
“I am honored to be selected for this award,” said Mannila. “Although I appreciate being selected, I cannot take all the credit. My supervisor, Jeff Green, has been greatly supportive of my public service, as have many of my friends and, of course, none of my public service would be possible without the love and support from my wife.”
As one might suspect, the name “Ray Mannila” is synonymous with theater in Sumter County and southwest Georgia, and particularly at Georgia Southwestern where he has been on the faculty since 2000. On a typical day, if he is not building a set, he is teaching a class on theater or set design, scheduling events for all three performance venues on campus, or planning a theater conference.
“I take great pride in representing Georgia Southwestern State University through my public service and do my best to spread ‘the good word’ about GSW throughout these efforts,” he explained.
Mannila’s public service has been consistent and the volume is nothing short of massive. In academic, community and professional productions, he has put together some very impressive stats:
- Producer – five productions • Scenic Designer – over 40 productions
- Director – 16 productions • Actor – over 50 productions
- Technical director – over 50 productions • Scenic carpenter – over 150 productions
“Volunteering my time for the various agencies I have worked with allows me to interact with the truly gifted and wonderful people in our area that I normally would not get to meet otherwise,” added Mannila. “Also, being that I love theater so much, volunteering allows me to share my passion with our community.”
Much of Mannila’s activity off campus is spent working with the Sumter Players where he has been a board member since 2001. He currently serves as vice president of production, and he served as president from 2006 to 2010. His volunteer work also extends to local Georgia one-act play competitions as a respondent, assisting in the planning of the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festivals, coordinating events for the Georgia Theater Conference of which he is a member, and providing technical support for the Lake Blackshear Regional Library’s annual dinner theater fundraiser.
Essentially, if work involving theater is taking place in this region, Mannila is there.
“Mr. Mannila’s accomplishments are an impressive contribution to our community,” read an excerpt from Mannila’s nomination letter. “He deserves to be recognized for his leadership and hard work to promote the theater arts in southwest Georgia.”
In recognition to his contribution to local volunteer theater, Mannila was given the “Mini Mo” award for outstanding contribution to the Sumter Players in 2009 – its highest honor. He also serves as advisor to GSW’s theater honor society Alpha Psi Omega and has received multiple “Most Supportive Staff Awards” from GSW’s Orientation Team.
Mannila earned a Bachelor of Science in theatre/English from Northern Michigan University and a Master of Arts in dramatic literature from Michigan State University.
Mannila and his wife, Stephanie Harvey, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, reside in Americus.
Ray Mannila is GSW's 2014 Featured Public Servant
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