The department has gone through many name changes during its forty-plus years of existence. "The Department of Drama and Speech" became the "Department of Theatre Arts" in the mid 1980's. In 1997, the name was again changed to the "Department of Theatre and Dance." And more recently, the department has not only changed its name, but its college.
In the spring of 2003, Dr. William Swart, the Provost at the time, decided to unit all units dealing with the arts under one umbrella, forming a new college. The four units involved (Music, Art, Communication, and Theatre and Dance) all met to discuss the pros and cons of creating this new college. After much debate, the new college was eventually approved through a formal vote. The new issue then arose of what to name the new college. After much debate, the Provost finally called a meeting where he invited faculty from all four units. All potential names were listed on a chalkboard, and an official vote was taken by a show of hands. With 25 votes, the "College of Fine Arts and Communication" became the official title of the newly formed college.
In the summer of 2003, the Department of Theatre and Dance became the School of Theatre and Dance, and John Shearin's title changed from Chair to Director of the new school. Beginning fall of 2003, the newly named School of Theatre and Dance left its old home with the College of Arts and Sciences and joined the School of Music, the School of Art, and the School of Communication in the newly formed College of Fine Arts and Communication. However, the creation of new names and newly formed colleges can bring to mind old words from the Bard: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet."