Faculty Focus: Q&A with Erin Jerozal

Friday, October 8, 2021

Erin Jerozal is an assistant professor in the Theatre and Music Theatre Department, as well as the current Department Chair. Before starting at Viterbo in 2018, Jerozal lived in New York City, making her living as an actor, educator, and director for almost 20 years.

Erin Jerozal
Erin Jerozal

Jerozal earned her Master of Fine Arts in Classical Acting degree from the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater degree from Syracuse University. In addition to her roles in theater education, Jerozal also worked as a standardized patient and medical educator, teaching communication skills for numerous medical schools throughout New York City, including New York University, Cornell University, and Einstein College of Medicine.

How many years have you worked at Viterbo? 

I started in the fall of 2018, so I’m currently at the beginning of my fourth year at Viterbo. Not sure if the pandemic has made the time feel longer or shorter, but La Crosse and Viterbo quickly felt like home, so the time has flown.

Best known for teaching …

I teach a wide variety of acting classes, both Shakespeare and musical theatre, along with improv and our music theatre history and literature class. I feel very lucky to get to teach such a wide variety of classes, as it provides the chance to get to know pretty much every student in our department.

What do you love most about teaching at Viterbo? 

We laugh in our department every day. And more days than not, we also cry. We hold each other accountable to being the best versions of ourselves and ask deep questions of one another. We also hold space for each other on the days that ask for gentleness, forgiveness, and grace. We are always learning  as faculty, staff, and students. And we are ridiculously ridiculous. But most of all, I really appreciate that we are people first. We may have our job titles, but when we gather, it is people talking to people. I love that we can say the name of the person that a student should go talk to on campus — it’s not, “go talk to advising,” it’s “talk with Kristen” or “check in with Tina.” It makes a world of difference in how welcoming and community-centered our campus can be.

What inspires you? 

There is almost nothing that I wouldn’t credit as a source of inspiration at some point. It depends on what I’m directing, or what is happening in my own life or the lives of our campus community, or my own continuing artistic career. I can turn to podcasts, a really good recipe, the wonderful La Crosse hiking trails (especially with good crunchy snow in the winter), conversations with my colleagues. I chose a career in the arts because my curiosity felt too big for any other life. Being an artist allows me to toe-dip into a million different worlds and points of view when working on projects, and we’re always meeting new people. It’s a wonderful way to get to see the world.

What others say about you?

I hope people see me as thoughtful, passionate, and caring. I think they’d also say that I am willing to get into the ring to stand up for matters that make a difference in our world. I’m also proud of the descriptions loud, stubborn, and relentless. It’s good to make “good trouble” sometimes, too.

Here are a couple comments from people:

“You walk an amazing line between authority who has expectations and will hold people to their work and standards, while also letting the class know and believe you’re fully in their corner the whole time. I don’t know how you do it, but you’re amazing and so incredible to work with and learn from.”

“Erin Jerozal creates a safe space to take risks and make choices. She pushes her students to go beyond what they know and challenges them to confront their habits. She is knowledgeable on the course material and can communicate effectively to meet student needs. She is able to adjust her teaching methods to the individual, so all can grow.”