Cruz Receives Engaged Faculty Award from NC Campus Engagement

Categories: News Tags: COA+A, Theatre

Associate Professor of Theatre CarlosAlexis Cruz has received the 2024 Engaged Faculty Award from North Carolina Campus Engagement (NCCE). Each year, the Engaged Faculty Award recognizes one faculty member in North Carolina for exemplary engaged teaching and scholarship, including leadership that advances students’ community and civic learning, conducting community-based research, fostering reciprocal community partnerships, and building institutional commitments to service-learning and community engagement. The award was presented at NCCE’s 2024 PACE Conference on February 14 at Guilford College.

Cruz, who came to UNC Charlotte in 2013, teaches physical theatre, including circus arts, in the Department of Theatre. In 2014 he founded the Nouveau Sud Circus Project with a McColl Award from the Arts & Science Council. Empowering individuals and communities that are often marginalized lies at the root of the community-centered contemporary circus company. Nouveau Sud had its debut production in April 2016 and has continued to mount shows that address social justice issues, particularly issues of immigration and race and ethnicity. In In 2019, Nouveau Sud received a $25,000 Celebrate Charlotte Arts grant from the Knight Foundation and in 2020 received the prestigious Creation and Touring Grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) for its production, “La Bestia.”

Cruz integrates his teaching with both his community work and his professional artmaking. Several members of Nouveau Sud are alumni of UNC Charlotte, and in 2021 Cruz worked with Mexican American playwright Georgina Escobar to develop “MIGRANT X,” a play that explored the issue of immigration policy globally, nationally and locally through the real stories of Charlotte residents. Directed by Cruz and performed by students and community members, “MIGRANT X” premiered at UNC Charlotte in October 2021.

“Cruz’s performance strategies have enabled him to interweave teaching, service and research in ways that position his classrooms as spaces of empowerment, providing real-world experiences that allow students to find their voices, share their skills and give a voice to communities in need,” said Jennifer Troyer, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “I am so pleased that he has been recognized with the Engaged Faculty Award.”

Cruz has served as the chair of the College of Arts + Architecture Equity Council and sits on the university’s Community Engagement Advisory Council. In 2023 he received the Bonnie E. Cone Professorship in Civic Engagement, awarded annually to a tenured member of the UNC Charlotte faculty whose teaching and/or research “embody the University’s commitment to civic involvement, and whose work profoundly and systematically affects the relationship between UNC Charlotte and the larger community in a positive and meaningful way.”

Equally engaged in the civic sector, Cruz served on the steering committee that developed a comprehensive arts and culture plan for the City of Charlotte, co-chairing the task force that developed recommendations to advance collaboration across the arts and culture sector. Nationally, he serves as president of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the professional membership organization for college and university theatre departments and administrators, educators, graduate students and theatre practitioners.

About NC Campus Engagement

North Carolina Campus Engagement (NCCE) is a collaborative network of 39 colleges and universities committed to educating students for civic and social responsibility, partnering with communities for positive change, and strengthening democracy. The NC Campus Engagement state office fosters connections between campuses, shares best practice information and resources, recognizes outstanding work and champions civic and community engagement in higher education. To learn more visit

Pictured above: Associate Provost for Urban Research and Community Engagement Byron White, left, with Carlos Cruz and Tamara Johnson, director of engaged scholarship, at the NCCE event on February 14.