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Denzel Washington Endowed Chairs in Theatre

Denzel Washington meets with student on campus .

As an undergraduate at Fordham College at Rose Hill during the 1970s, Denzel Washington played basketball and considered a career in medicine before shifting to journalism. During his junior year, however, he transferred to Fordham College at Lincoln Center, where he found his calling on stage in the Fordham Theatre program.

Throughout all of his success on screen and stage, he has continued to be a champion of theater education at Fordham. The two-time Oscar winner served on the University’s Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2000. And in 2011, he established the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre with a $2 million gift to the University. He also contributed $250,000 to establish an endowed scholarship fund for students in the Fordham Theatre program.

Every fall, the Denzel Washington Endowed Chair in Theatre attracts a well-known actor, director, playwright, designer, or other artist to the University's Lincoln Center campus to teach and work closely with Fordham Theatre students on performances and productions. 

Endowed Chair Holders

Mimi Lien

2022: Award-winning set designer and MacArthur Fellow Mimi Lien

Kaneza Schaal

2021: Artist and Guggenheim Fellow Kaneza Schaal

Liesl Tommy

2020: Tony Award-nominated director Liesl Tommy

Denzel Washington Chair Liesl Tommy: Command ‘Respect’ and Don’t Give Up the Ghost

LaTanya Richardson Jackson

2019: Tony Award-nominated actor LaTanya Richardson Jackson

Denzel Washington Chair LaTanya Jackson on Rhythm, Playwriting, and Respect

Michael Potts

2018: Actor Michael Potts

Actor Michael Potts to Take Denzel Washington Chair

Regina Taylor

2017: Golden Globe-winning actress, director, playwright Regina Taylor

Golden Globe Winner Named New Denzel Chair

Stephen Mckinley Henderson

2016: Drama Desk Award-winning actor Stephen McKinley Henderson

Stephen McKinley Henderson to Take Denzel Washington Chair

Joanne Akalaitis

2015: Obie-winning director JoAnne Akalatis

Acclaimed Director Named as Denzel Washington Theatre Chair

Kenny Leon

2014: Tony Award-winning actor, director Kenny Leon

Going Universal with Kenny Leon, New Denzel Washington Chair

Christine Jones

2013: Tony Award-winning set designer Christine Jones

Immersing the Course Syllabus with Christine Jones

Joe Morton

2012: Emmy-winning actor Joe Morton

Joe Morton to Teach at Fordham

Phylicia Rashad

2011: Tony Award-winning actress, director Phylicia Rashād

Denzel Washington Endows Fordham Theatre Chair, Scholarship

Show me a successful individual, and I’ll show you someone who has had positive influences in his or her life. The late Bob Stone, my mentor, was a former actor and professor at Fordham University. Bob was one of those influences in my life. He believed in me and gave me something to live up to.  - Denzel Washington