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Gary R. Bird
Regents' Proceedings 128

The Regents of the University of Michigan acknowledge with profound sadness the death of Gary R. Bird, assistant professor of music (musical theatre), School of Music.

Professor Bird received his B.S. degree in theatre from Weber State University in 1976 and his M.F.A. degree in theatre from the University of Utah in 1979. He began his professional career as assistant professor of theatre at Brigham Young University at Hawaii in 1979, transferring to Utah State University in 1980. In 1991, Professor Bird accepted a position at East Carolina University, where he taught until he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1994. He came to the School of Music with over ten years of teaching experience in the musical theatre field and had directed more than 50 plays and musicals in academic, community, and professional settings.

His first production at the University of Michigan was Grand Hotel in April 1996, followed by The Mystery of Edwin Drood (October 1996), West Side Story (April 1998), Anything Goes (October 1998), and A Little Night Music (1999). The Ann Arbor News heralded his direction of West Side Story as "an astonishing new spin on a Broadway classic." In the spring of 2000, Professor Bird directed theatre department students in a studio production of the musical Personals. He and the musical theatre students were looking forward to producing a studio production of Sondheim's Assassins in December 2000, which the department will continue in Professor Bird's honor. He taught courses in musical theatre performance, a subject about which he was writing a book.

As a teacher, Professor Bird influenced his students at all times. A much-repeated remembrance of him summarizes the feelings of many: "Professor Bird helped me to grow as a person and as a performer. He helped me to reach heights I never knew I could." A favorite with the students, however, was Professor Bird's unique sense of humor and engaging smile.

Revered and respected by his friends and colleagues in the School of Music, Professor Bird will be sorely missed by those who had the privilege of knowing him. His sudden and premature death is an incalculable loss for the University community. As we mourn the loss of this distinguished scholar and gifted artist, we unite in extending our condolences to Professor Bird's children, Tyler, Chelsea, and Bethany; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bird; and the rest of his family.