Robert Schneider, a professor in Penn State’s School of Theatre since 2009, will be leaving Penn State at the end of the spring semester.
Schneider is best known for teaching Theatre 100 (The Art of the Theatre), a class which, by his estimates, approximately 9,000 students have taken at the university throughout the course of his tenure. Schneider, a Los Angeles native, will be leaving Penn State to begin a company in his hometown.
“I’m going to be starting up a company that will prepare high school students who will be applying to arts programs. For example, if you’re trying to go to theatre school, we help you decide which programs are the best for you and help you prepare materials for the audition,” Schneider said.
Schneider, a Penn State alumnus himself, received an M.F.A. in Directing for the Musical Theatre in 2009 and was the youngest director allowed into the program at 23. At Penn State, he has taught classes such as Appreciation of Theatre, Introduction to Dramatic Structure, Script Analysis, Appreciation of Musical Theatre and Junior Musical Theatre Studio.
Schneider has made many contributions to Theatre 100, a unique class due to its experiential approach to the art of acting. In the class, students learn about acting by watching live performances as opposed to listening to lectures.
“Helen Manfull started the Theatre 100 program, and Rob Schneider took it on and made it his own and continued to expand it. It’s great when you can have someone take something original and mold it to fit into 2012,” Bianca Washington (graduate-acting and theatre), a former teaching assistant for Schneider, said.
Schneider’s students also had a lot to say about his teaching style and approachability as a professor.
“Taking that class and having him as a professor made me more interested in the subject. He was definitely a professor that was able to pique interest in students that would not be interested [in theatre] otherwise,” said Cassandra Nissi (junior-print journalism).
Schneider is also known among students for his affability.
“When he talks about theatre, he really means it and loves the subject that he’s teaching. He likes to be one-on-one with his students,” said Natalie Medved (freshman-communications).
Schneider contributed more to lives of his students than just teaching them, Washington said.
“Rob really instilled a sense of ownership in his students. They’re not in high school anymore — they’re in college and need to learn to be responsible, and take responsibility for themselves, which is the other part of teaching,” Washington said.
Schneider confirmed that a replacement has been found for his position, but was unable to give further detail. Schneider said he feels both sad and happy about his departure, but also said that he’s excited about the next chapter.
“Penn State is always going to be my family, [it’s] always going to be the place that I call home,” he said. “If I ever get to come back, I hope Penn State will welcome me the same way it has for the past seven years.”