Christine Tschida will direct academic and artistic use of U building, now undergoing an extensive renovation.
Exterior of Northrop Auditorium. Workmen have started rebuilding the interior of Northrop Auditorium, that was totally removed during the two year revitalization project. University officials gave the media during a tour of the building on 12/16/11. Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune
A onetime producer of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" is coming home to be director of Northrop at the University of Minnesota.
Christine Tschida's selection for the newly created position was announced by the university Monday. She will assume her duties Aug. 15.
Tschida arrives amid an extensive renovation of the 82-year-old venue, which hosts concerts, theater and dance productions, and is expanding into academics.
Tschida's post "is a new position because with the revitalization ... the new Northrop will be different than before," university spokeswoman Patty Mattern said. "Along with the Concerts and Lectures [program], it will also house important academic programs, including the University Honors Program and the Institute for Advanced Study, as well as public study and meeting spaces to promote collaborative activities."
Ben Johnson, the current director of Concerts and Lectures, will retain his position under Tschida's direction.
Karen Hanson, the university's senior vice president for academic affairs, said in a statement that "Christine will provide energetic, experienced and visionary leadership for the academic and cultural program that will define the new Northrop, and she will be an excellent collaborator with the campus and community."
In the same announcement, Tschida said she is "thrilled to have the opportunity to help shape [Northrop's] future."
For the past 10 years, Tschida has been director of theater projects for Rena Shagan Associates in New York, serving as an artist representative for leading dance and theater companies.
Before that, she spent 12 years as producer of public radio's "A Prairie Home Companion" and was executive director of the show's primary venue, the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.
Early in her career, she spent six years as outreach program director for the Guthrie Theater, responsible for touring programs, educational activities and special events.
Tschida, a graduate of St. Paul Highland Park High School, earned a degree in theater and humanities from Macalester College in St. Paul.
Northrop's renovation is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2013, with a grand opening the following spring once the 2,800-seat performance hall is completed.
While Northrop is under construction, its performing arts program has continued at other locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482