Denise M. Trauth Outstanding Leadership Award

Due to 2024 being a celebration of the 125th anniversary of Texas State, we will not be selecting new Distinguished Alumni, Young Alumni Rising Star, or Denise M. Trauth Outstanding Leadership Award recipients. In 2024, we will celebrate all past recipients at the 2024 DA Gala. More details to come.

Nominations packets for 2023 were due by June 12, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.

2023 Denise M. Trauth Outstanding Leadership Award Recipient

Kaitlin Hopkins

Kaitlin Hopkins Headshot

2023 Denise M. Trauth Outstanding Leadership Award recognizes Kaitlin Hopkins for her creation, innovation, and elevation of Texas State's musical theatre program.

The Texas State Alumni Association has named Kaitlin Hopkins, an award-winning actress, director, producer, educator, and 2023 Tony Award nominee for Excellence in Theatre Education, as this year’s recipient of the Denise M. Trauth Outstanding Leadership Award.

The award, which is named after its inaugural recipient and Texas State’s ninth president, recognizes those who carry Trauth’s legacy forward through integrity, compassion, resilience, and innovation.

Hopkins arrived on campus in 2009, bringing a wealth of theatrical experience over a 30-year career including a combined 16 Broadway and off-Broadway shows and over 50 film and television roles including The Nanny Diaries, Star Trek Deep-Space Nine and 3 years on NBC’s Another World.

Hopkins created the university’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theatre program, designing the 123-hour degree plan, curriculum, and infrastructure. Under her leadership, TXST has become nationally recognized for its musical theatre program, which is now a destination for top talent from across the country. In 2016 Hopkins received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching from Texas State University and was recognized by Broadway Dreams Foundation as an innovative voice in education, and one of the 6 top women educators in the performing arts.  

In her first year she recruited 230 applicants for 14 spots. Applications for this highly competitive program now average more than 800 per year for 12 spots.

“Bobcats can be found on Broadway, on national and international tours, in film and television, and across the globe,” said Michael Burrell, a 2017 musical theatre graduate.

“In my four years, K-Hop, as we, her children, call her, molded me into the person I am today,” said Burrell, who recently booked a recurring role in “The Gilded Age” on HBO. “She and her incredible group of musical theatre educators created my foundation as an artist.”

The TXST musical theatre program’s prominence and strength are on display annually at its New York City industry showcase, which takes place just weeks after graduation.

Every year graduating seniors are signed by the top talent agencies. Students receive multiple agent and manager offers, resulting in calls by theatre and television casting offices for auditions and offers for professional contracts.

Hopkins’ preparation and empowerment of her theatre students extend well beyond the stage and screen, said Dr. John Fleming, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

“While Kaitlin has an impeccable record of preparing students for the industry, she also prepares them for life,” said Fleming, referring to Hopkins’ role as co-founder of Living Mental Wellness, an evidence based educational program for performing artists and athletes designed to enhance mental wellness through an integrated life skills model. Her innovative holistic approach to performing artists education has garnered international attention including a TEDx Talk in 2016.

“Hopkins would not send her students out into the world without the tools they need to take care of themselves”, Burrell added.

“As artists, we put ourselves through mental acrobatics,” Burrell said. “Our mental health is constantly in a state of war. She made Texas State the first musical theatre program to install a mental health curriculum. Many schools have followed her lead and installed her curriculum to help their students.”

Colleagues and alumni praise Hopkins for her efforts to engage the needs of her students and support equity, diversity, and inclusion.

"Over the past four years, she has created endowments to serve Black, Latinx, International, and first-generation college students," said TXST Distinguished Alumnus Jerry Fields, a business executive who co-chaired a capital campaign for the program.

Her recruiting efforts to support more opportunities for students of color in the musical theatre program resulted in a 47% increase of the BIPOC student population in her program during a 12-year period.

Hopkins’ dedication to the growth of her students doesn’t end with their graduation. She continues to mentor her musical theatre alumni, including Burrell and Anna Uzele, who recently starred in the Apple tv+ series Dear Edward and Broadway musical New York, New York. “Kaitlin continues to connect with her Bobcat alumni,” Burrell said. “She has created online groups for us to keep in touch and updates us on everything within the program.”

“I am still one of her kids,” he added. “Alumni and students talk about all the amazing things that make Texas State University what it is. The campus, the river, the square, I love it all. But the people make Texas State. It’s Kaitlin Hopkins that made it for me.”

Criteria for Consideration

  • Exceptional leadership qualities and ability to lead in their role while demonstrating dedication to the campus community
  • Ability to foster and embrace diversity and inclusiveness among students, faculty, and staff
  • Honor and prestige through initiatives, motivation, and innovation to create positive and impactful change to Texas State University and the San Marcos and/or Round Rock community
  • Groundbreaking discoveries in the future of academics and continues to further push boundaries in exploring research for the university
  • Ability to integrate technological innovation to cultivate extraordinary learning opportunities for students
  • Commitment to making significant contributions to enhance the student experience, academic programs, and student organizations at Texas State University
  • Dedication, integrity, and selflessness while making a positive impact on the university
  • Outstanding ability to engage and develop partnerships within the university and community
  • Ethical behavior, compassion, respect, integrity, fairness to all university students and staff
  • Nominations of individuals not selected will be held and considered “active” for two (2) consecutive years (the first year of nomination and one subsequent year)

Nominee Requirements

  1. Nominee must meet award recipient criteria
  2. Nominee must be in good standing with the university
  3. Nominee can either be a full-time or part-time Texas State University employee, alumnus, former student or a supporter of the university
  4. Nominee must be able to attend the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Gala (Date TBD)
  5. Self-nominations will not be accepted