Students, faculty memorialize late COPA professor

Written By Sarah Gibson, Co-News Editor

On August 25, students, faculty and alumni gathered in the Lawrence Hall ballroom to celebrate the life of a Point Park professor.

Ricardo Tobia was an adjunct professor at Point Park for 35 years in the Conservatory of Performing Arts and passed away in early July. The memorial was organized as a way for students to gather together and remember Tobia before the semester began.

The celebration began with Sharon Brady, a fellow faculty member and friend of Tobia, sharing her own stories about her time with Tobia and reading a song from the broadway musical “Pacific Overtures,” a show in which Tobia was an original cast member on broadway.

The podium was then opened to those attending to allow them to share their own stories about Tobia.

Many took the podium to share their own personal stories about Tobia. He was remembered as a holy man, a former member of the United States military and a constant source of support for his students.

Nique Eagen, a graduate of Point Park’s class of 1997 and a previous student of Tobia, recounted her own struggles during her college years as a student of Tobia.

“I was never really self-confident, but you know Ricardo,” Eagen said. “He had enough confidence for all of us. He wasn’t just a teacher, he was family […] He is someone that will always be a part of me and always has been, and I’m very grateful to have known him.”

Fellow faculty member, Rich Keitel, described the pride he could see Tobia take in his students.

“What I loved about Ricardo is that you could see the joy in his eyes that he had for his students and he just loved seeing his students sing,” Keitel said. “He’s a real inspiration as a teacher and as a professor.”

Tim Marquette, an adjunct professor and the head of private voice at Point Park, noted that Tobia would work beyond the classroom for students by directing choral groups and holding choir concerts.

Tobia previously ran Point Park’s University Singers, a choral group offered to students. Not only would the choir group perform shows on campus, but Tobia would bring them to church with him to perform.

“He would often use his church out in the South Hills and he would just say, ‘We’re going to have a Christmas concert at my church,’ and he would bring the choir to his church and open it up for the community to go there,” Marquette said. “He was an incredibly dedicated faculty member, teacher, mentor, and friend.”

Keitel ended his time at the podium with a suggestion to those attending.

“There’s more lessons that Ricardo would have: lean on each other, give your love for each other, support each other,” Keitel said. “Its shocking, the beauty that he showed his students is a lesson for us all.”