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Wilbur Dorsett (1912-1980):

English Professor
 Born December 25, 1912, Wilbur Dorsett graduated from Spencer High School in Spencer, North Carolina at the age of eighteen.  From there, Dorsett went on to attend the University of North Carolina (UNC), where he majored in English. While attending to his undergraduate studies, Dorsett worked on the technical staff for the Carolina Playmakers.  He later received a Rockefeller Scholarship to pursue a Master of Arts degree at UNC, achieving receiving his degree in goal in 1936. After leaving UNC, Dorsett worked as a technical director for the summer theater program at the New England Repertory Company in Maplewood, New Jersey and as assistant manager for The Lost Colony at the Waterside Theatre in Roanoke, North Carolina.[1] After leaving these jobs, Dorsett began his teaching career at Wesleyan College and Conservatory in Macon, Georgia.  There he taught dramatic arts and directed the theatre until the late 1930s, when he relocated to North Carolina to teach at the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina.  After a brief period with the Intuition, Dorsett affiliated himself with the University of Virginia and Michigan State University before joining the Rollins faculty in 1946.

While at Rollins, Dorsett used the knowledge he gained while studying at the Shakespeare Institute of the University of Birmingham in England to teach a Shakespeare class “that was one of the most popular courses in the curriculum.”[2] Dorsett also directed the Annie Russell Theatre program in his early years at Rollins, where he became most notable for his productions of Romeo and Juliet and Henry IV, Part I.  During the later part of his career, Dorsett authored a historical drama on the history of the College in a song titled Song of Rollins, a ballad that spoke of, “the old dinky railroad line whose tracks [were] yet to run along Lake Virginia.”[3]  He also collaborated on a play with music about Shakespeare called Muse of Fire and wrote many articles about poetry, theatre, and history.  Among these included his publications Shards: A Scatter of Sonnets (1977) and Lightening in the Mirror (1980). As a resident of Winter Park, Dorsett also made his mark on the City.  He served on the  Board of Directors with the English Speaking Union and maintained an active role with the Winter Park Historical Association, the Florida Theatre Conference, and the South Atlantic Modern Language Association.  For his dedication to such organizations, the Rollins community gathered in 1979 to celebrate the promotion of Dorsett’s permanent ranking to Professor Emeritus.

On November 4, 1980, friends and family of Dorsett gathered once again, this time to honor the memory of Wilbur Dorsett. “Wilber, in a way summarized what Dr. Holt talked about golden personality,” explained Hugh McKean. “He thought the teacher was the most important subject. Wilber Dorsett summed up the kind of teacher every college was looking for. He was great.”[4]

- Alia Alli

[1] “The Lost Colony,” Sandspur, October 8, 1963.

[2] “Wilber Dorsett, Rollins Scholar,” Sentinel Star, November 6, 1980.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ed Hayes. “Wilber Dorsett: A Friend of Writers,” Star Sentinel, November 16, 1980.

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