Students host benefit show for fired Dixie State professor

Dixie State University students and alumni pose for a photo with Varlo Davenport, back row center, at a rally seeking his reinstatement, St. George, Utah, February 2015 | Photo courtesy of JaNay Maxwell, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Students of Varlo Davenport, a former Dixie State University professor recently fired amid controversy after a female student made assault allegations against him, will perform in a benefit show for the professor and his family Monday night at the DiFiore Center in St. George.

It is a showcase of theater students past and present performing their favorite scenes and songs, many of which came from shows Varlo directed,” Corinne Nelsen, a current Dixie State music major who organized the event, said.

Read more: Controversy, unrest persist over Dixie State firing professor; prosecutor reviews complaint

“I want it to be an event that shows Varlo how much we love and appreciate him while doing what we do best BECAUSE of him – performing,” Nelsen wrote in a message to St. George News.

The show will take place at 7 p.m. at the DiFiore Center, 307 N. Main St. in St. George. Nelsen said admission is a $5 suggested donation per person at the door.

Davenport was terminated from Dixie State in December after a student alleged he assaulted her during an acting class exercise. Davenport said the exercise was a standard method for helping a student break through emotional barriers and connect with an acting scene. Students who were present in the class, Dixie State theater alumni and professional peers throughout the country have written letters to Dixie State on Davenport’s behalf, defending the exercise as standard practice in an acting class setting.

Davenport appeared before a Dixie State faculty review board in January. After reviewing the details of the incident and hearing various testimonies, including from students who were in Davenport’s class the day the incident occurred, the board exonerated Davenport and recommended that he be reinstated to his position at the university. Dixie State President Richard “Biff” Williams exercised his option to overrule the board’s decision and upheld Davenport’s termination.

Current and former students, community members and theater professionals have signed a petition asking for the university to restore Davenport, a 15-year, tenured professor, to his position. At the time of this publication, the petition had amassed 1,336 signatures.

A complaint filed by the family of the student involved in the incident is currently being reviewed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office. Dixie State University has declined to comment about the investigation beyond confirming that it originated with the DSU Campus Police Department at the request of the student’s family.

Event details

  • What: Benefit show for Varlo Davenport
  • When: Monday, March 23 | 7 p.m.
  • Where: DiFiore Center for Arts and Education | 307 N. Main St., St. George
  • Admission: $5 suggested donation at the door


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  • fun bag March 23, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    WHERE IS THE LINK TO THE GOFUNDME PAGE?! can’t have a fundraiser without a gofundme

    • Cami Cox Jim March 23, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      There is a link to the GoFundMe page at the bottom of the article, in the “Resources” section.

      • fun bag March 23, 2015 at 6:13 pm

        lol yea, when i didn’t see it right away i panicked. thank goodness it’s there!

  • fun bag March 23, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    uh oh, i just realized the gofundme link isn’t working!!! goes to the petition

    • Cami Cox Jim March 23, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      You’re right! Thanks for the heads up — that has been fixed. 🙂

  • NotSoFast March 23, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    It’s too bad that the Di Fiore support benefit wasn’t announced at lease one day in advanced.

    • Cami Cox Jim March 24, 2015 at 2:13 am

      Unfortunately, we weren’t informed about the benefit until Monday (the day it took place).

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