Dan Carter will step down as director of the School of Theatre and producing artistic director of Penn State Centre Stage on June 30, 2017, after 22 years of service. He will continue as a part-time, non-resident member of the faculty through June 30, 2019, pursuing research and creative activity and service assignments and focusing on the preservation and celebration of the theatre program’s institutional memory in anticipation of its 100th anniversary in 2021.
While at Penn State, Carter has overseen the development of the University’s Musical Theatre program into a national leader, the creation of an international program unique among theatre programs (including student trips to London, Italy, Eastern Europe, and South Africa), the significant and ongoing diversification of the faculty and student body, and in recent years the creation of new plays through an active commissioning initiative and the development of partnerships with New York-based professional theatres.
“When I look back at nearly a quarter of a century and see what has taken place during my time here, I feel tremendous pride in all we have accomplished together. At Penn State, we don’t rebuild; we reload. So many wonderful teachers and artists and students have passed through our doors, and when they move on we have the great joy of welcoming new people who are also wonderful. That’s a large part of what keeps this fresh for all of us. My only lament is that I’ll miss seeing up close what comes next for this incredible community of artists, scholars, and learners. I have no doubt that it will build on all that has come before, just as my contemporaries and I built on what was created by the giants who preceded us, and—as the Hamilton lyric says—‘Blow us all away.’"
Before entering academia, Carter spent 15 years as a professional theatre artist, working as an actor, director, stage manager, choreographer, writer, and producer. In 1986, he was appointed associate dean for production for the Florida State University School of Theatre. After seven years there, he took on the position of chair of the Illinois State University Department of Theatre. During his two years in that position, he also served as producing director of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. He came to Penn State in 1995.
Carter has been active in many national theatre organizations, including serving as president of the National Association of Schools of Theatre (2011–14) and of the National Theatre Conference (2010–12), in addition to holding other leadership positions in those groups. He has served as a consultant and program reviewer for theatre programs in the United Kingdom and throughout the United States. He also serves as a mentor for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Leadership Institute.
Carter’s many honors include election to the College of Fellows of the American Theatre and the Rock Valley College Hall of Fame. An alumnus of Illinois State University (B.A. in theatre), he received the university’s Alumni Achievement Award in 1999. In addition, he received the Patrick Crean Award from the Society of American Fight Directors in 1991.
Carter, who also holds an M.F.A. in theatre (directing) from Florida State University, is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, Screen Actors’ Guild, Dramatists Guild of America, Society of American Fight Directors, and Society of Directors and Choreographers.
Carter said he looks forward to spending more time in his North Carolina log house. “Three years ago, my wife Ruby and I bought a log house on a North Carolina mountaintop, and I began telling people: ‘I don’t know when I’ll be retiring, but I do know what porch that rocking chair will be sitting on.’ Now I know when I can start rocking.”