Photo of campus building in Fall.

Lasting Lessons

Montclair State graduates remember favorite professors who were teachers and mentors, and whose wisdom has stayed with them throughout the years.

Lori Katterhenry

Director of Dance

In the dance world, the word “grace” conjures ideals of elegant and refined movement. In describing Lori Katterhenry, who retired as director of Montclair State’s Dance Division after 33 years this past spring, the term goes beyond artistic excellence.

“She leads with grace,” says former student Eric Parra ’17, who is now a professional dancer with the Limón Dance Company in Manhattan. “She will not stop until her students see in themselves what she sees in them. And for that I am infinitely grateful.”

“Since my freshman year of school, Lori knew that I needed to perform, I needed to be challenged, and that I would need help,” says Parra. “She was always there to make sure that all was going well. Luckily for me, she was also my academic advisor. Trips to her office were never just about what my next semester courses would be. They also were about how I was feeling, what my summer was looking like, what my plans for the future were, what questions I needed answers for.”

Parra and others cited Katterhenry’s nurturing nature and the loving and creative family environment she fostered – bringing life to Life Hall.

“She was my professor, my mentor and now my very dear friend,” says Maureen Glennon Clayton ’91, who ultimately shared a professorship with Katterhenry at the University. “Lori was always so supportive. She always called my class ‘her kids.’ I really felt like we were so tight as a family at Montclair State.”

Glennon Clayton also praised Katterhenry’s work as a choreographer, which she says conveys a witty, even comic bent at times. “What I love about her is that she always made me laugh and what I love even more is that I can make her laugh,” says Glennon Clayton.

Marie Sparks ’94, director of administration in the College of the Arts, met Katterhenry in 1985. As a mother of two who needed to raise her children while earning her degree, she appreciated that Katterhenry “created an environment where a non-traditional student could thrive.” At 28, Sparks says she also realized that she was probably not going to be one of the many Montclair State students who embarked on a professional career as a dancer – but that didn’t matter to Katterhenry.

“She used her abilities to include those considered on the fringe or underrepresented,” says Sparks. “Lori gave students permission to live their dream at whatever level they could.”

“She found a place for us.”

Sparks says that even though she and Katterhenry went on to become colleagues and together pioneered programs such as The Body Talks, the Arts & Healing Institute and The Body Shop, “She considers me a colleague but I always consider her a mentor.”

“Lori always knew that the job doesn’t end at the door to the studio,” says Sparks. “She has a great desire to use the arts as a powerful tool for transformation.”

“I could go on all day,” says Sparks. “I can’t say enough good things about her.”