Patricia “Pat” Harter, a professor emerita at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, died at her Granada Hills home on Oct. 8 from congestive heart failure. She was 78.
Harter joined the UCLA faculty in 1979 as a lecturer, teaching theater of Southeast Asia and Japanese theater courses, and retired in 2014. During her 35 years at TFT, she served in numerous administrative positions including vice chair of graduate programs and acting associate dean. She also served as a member of numerous theater doctoral committees while also developing and maintaining a close departmental relationship with UCLA’s World Arts and Culture program.
She was the founder and director of two programs at UCLA for pre-college students: the UCLA Acting and Performance Institute for high schoolers (1996-2012) and the School of Theater, Film and Television’s K-12 Arts Bridge outreach program (1999-2012). Both programs have continued to flourish as curricular offerings in the theater department and at TFT after her retirement.
As a stage director, she led UCLA productions of “The Fantasticks,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Once Upon a Mattress,” among others. She was a producing coordinator of “12-1-A,” a Japanese American play by Wakako Yamauchi, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Her international credits include a Chinese production of “Our Town” at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, where she was a visiting artist in 1991, and “Bitter Cane,” a contemporary play by Chinese American playwright Genny Lim, also at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, in 1993.
Born May 16, 1944, in Monterey, California, and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Harter was introduced to acting in high school. With aspirations to teach at the university level, she became a speech and drama major at Valparaiso University and, after graduation, the newly married Harter served alongside her husband in the Peace Corps for two years in Sri Lanka. During that time, she was introduced to Asian theater, which became her focus in graduate school and later, in her career. She earned her doctorate from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Asian theater, with specializations in puppetry and theater for young audiences.
Harter is survived by her husband Rick Harter, a daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters. A private celebration of life will take place in the near future.