Rob Gretta went from being a professional actor and director to a faculty member at Indiana University of Pennsylvania—via Northampton Community College and IUP.
Acting was just something he knew he always wanted to do. He started when he was 10 and he actually left his “first” university before completing his degree to work in New York City.
He worked in New York for almost 10 years as a professional actor and dancer in shows such as Evita, South Pacific and Guys and Dolls. But after hitting his 20s, castings didn’t come as easily.
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“I went from the ‘young leading man’ to character actor,” he said. “It made me realize that I needed to go back to school.”
Rob’s parents told him that he needed to pay for his next degree on his own.
“Northampton was a great choice—a wonderful, affordable education for my AA degree—and my transfer to IUP was totally seamless,” he said. “IUP accepted all my credits and made it easy for me.”
He graduated from IUP in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in theater, and he was determined to teach. He then earned his Master’s in directing at Florida State University, and he moved to Chicago, where he worked for five years in theater.
Today, he’s on the faculty at IUP, having designed IUP’s musical theater program. He’s teaching acting and directing, and he loves to give back to IUP and its students.
“My IUP experience was wonderful,” he said. “Of course, as a nontraditional student, I was a little worried. Would I be welcomed? Would I fit in? But starting with day one, I was accepted by both faculty and students. I felt very safe and at home at IUP.
I never felt older or separate from my peers; we were working together to succeed. I made lifelong friends, and kept in touch with the faculty at IUP.”
In fact, Rob so impressed IUP’s Department of Theater and Dance that while working in Chicago, he was invited back to fill in for a professor who fell ill.
“I was thrilled,” he said. “I wanted to give back to IUP and I wanted to give back to (the) students.” At IUP, he began the development of the university’s musical theater degree program before leaving for an opportunity at the University of Arizona.
After a short stint there, he was invited back to IUP to teach in the musical theater degree program he had worked to develop (now one of IUP’s 130 plus majors).
“I knew I wanted to come back to IUP because of the faculty and the students that the university attracts.” he said. “These are talented, hard working men and women who go on to great things, from shows on Broadway to plays in London’s West End. Not only
do they have talent, IUP students have a work ethic beyond belief. Our graduates are known for that. IUP also is well known for the quality of our program in theater circles.”
As a former professional actor and director, Rob brings real-life experience to the classroom, as do so many IUP faculty in all disciplines.
“There’s just something really special about IUP, its faculty, and its students,” he said. “As a student, the faculty did everything in their power to help me succeed and achieve my goals and dreams. As a faculty member, I’m committed to returning that
experience to the students that I teach.”