Michigan State University
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Department of Theatre
Department of Theatre


Friday, October 5, 2018

Paul Deckard Alum Photo

Meet Paul Deckard

Major and degree earned: B.F.A. in Theatre
Graduation year: 2011
Current position: Managing Director, Opera Colorado
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Now living in: Denver, CO

Why did you choose Michigan State University?

I chose Michigan State because of its reputation, its faculty, and the large volume of productions of the Theater department. I knew that I wanted to work in theater from an early age, so when it came time to find the right university I was looking specifically for a school that had a lot of opportunities. Michigan State not only had a lot of opportunities academically, but it also had a lot of opportunities in the Theater department.  Another major factor in my decision were the faculty, who were there from the very beginning to guide me along and provide me with support and advice in making me as prepared for my career as possible.

How did Michigan State University help you prepare for your career?

Michigan State was a solid foundation for my career. It provided me with opportunities to try different roles within the arts. I worked in almost every backstage role from stitcher to sound engineer. And I even had the opportunity to try a few artistic roles, front of house roles, and business support roles. All of these taught me new skills, tested my patience, and helped shape my interest in pursuing a career in the arts. While I was at Michigan State, I developed lifelong friendships and mentors who have helped support me and provide advice when I needed it most.

What was the most memorable experience at Michigan State University?

This is a difficult question. There were honestly so many. The people I met throughout my journey, both students and faculty, were the most memorable. My freshman year was a whirlwind of stage managing department productions and getting involved in Greek life. A particularly memorable production from freshman year was CABARET in 2008, directed by Rob Roznowski. It was an exciting directorial concept and artistically stunning. It was dead silent when the curtain fell at the end of the show and after a long pause audiences went into crazy applause. My sophomore year I did an unforgettable year abroad in Austria, where I really fell in love with opera. When I got back from abroad I worked on the production THE GRAPES OF WRATH with Ricky Ian Gordon and Melanie Helton at the music school. It was my first time ever working with a living composer and my first time diving into new work in opera.

What advice do you have for today’s students?

Work very hard and don't miss out on meaningful opportunities. There are endless amounts of opportunities during your time at Michigan State, but not all of them are meaningful. You will not be able to do them all so choose wisely and choose something where you know you will learn something or improve a skill you want to work on. Some of the smallest projects I worked on during my time there were the most meaningful. These meaningful opportunities helped me understand what my strengths and weaknesses were. They also helped me understand what I really enjoyed doing and didn't enjoy doing. It helped me discern a clearer path after college and I would not be where I am without them.

Photos from your time at MSU as a Stage Manager:

 The Who's Tommy (2009)

The Who's Tommy at MSU (2009)

 The Trojan Women at MSU (2009)

The Trojan Women at MSU (2009)

The Grapes of Wrath (Opera) at MSU (2011)

The Grapes of Wrath (Opera) at MSU (2011)

 A Streetcar Named Desire ay MSU (2011)

A Streetcar Names Desire at MSU (2011)


Originally from Detroit, Paul Deckard(MSU BFA Theatre, ‘11) brings a diverse set of experiences as both a leader and an artist. Deckard’s international exposure and artistic background have enabled him to create innovative and collaborative solutions for arts organizations. He has a deep passion for opera and began his career working in a variety of artistic and production roles at regional opera companies in the US and Europe primarily in production design and management. Deckard began to focus on providing business strategy and financial consultation for arts organizations after gaining experience in the artistic and production side of the arts. He has worked as a CFO and management consultant focusing on financial sustainability and strategic planning. Deckard has been widely recognized as an influential leader with a successful track record.

In 2015, he was nominated as CFO of the year by the Atlanta Business Chronicle for his work with the Atlanta Opera in a major financial turnaround and program expansion. Deckard implemented budget balancing and growth strategies resulting in an 80% deficit reduction in two years, while increasing the operating budget by 40%, doubling the number of performances per season, and doubling contributed revenues. In 2017, Deckard was recruited to lead Opera Colorado as Managing Director to implement strategic plan initiatives and lead management's business strategy. He overhauled the company's programmatic marketing efforts in his first year resulting in a 35% increase in attendance and earned revenues. In addition, Deckard also led the relocation of the company's headquarters -- combining the company's administrative and artistic facilities for the first time in the company's 35 year history.

Deckard has also served as a leader on a variety of community non-profit boards focused on strategic planning and major fundraising campaigns. His management consulting work has focused primarily on financial systems implementation and business process automation for non-profit organizations.

Deckard received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater from Michigan State University, and a Master of International Business from Hult International School of Business in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Anything else you might like to add:

Learn more about Opera Colorado at www.operacolorado.org!

Opera Colorado Logo

Go Green! Go White!

Paul Deckard Senior Seminar

Paul with the Senior Seminar Class (October 5, 2018)


Interested in being featured in the MSU Department of Theatre Alumni Profile Series? Click here!