Early in her career she maintained a desk in the stacks of the Library of Congress and was active in the theatrical life of the District and nearby Virginia. Variously, she taught and directed at Rose Robinson Cowen's Children's Studio, directed at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, the Crossroads Theatre and other venues. Her most significant association during this period was with the Mount Vernon Players. Its Producing Director was Edward Magnum and the theatre was at the Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church. Out of this association emerged the Arena Stage: the first fully professional resident theatre in the Nation's Capitol. Professor Roberts was one of its founding members. In late 1954, Vera, at the invitation of Dr. Mina Rees visited her at Hunter College, CUNY where she was based. The next year she started her teaching career as Instructor in Theatre at Hunter College - a career that lasted fifty (50) years. It was here that she became a "full" Professor in 1969. At this time The Graduate Center of the City University of New York was being constituted with Dr. Mina Rees as President. At Dr. Rees's invitation, Prof. Roberts chaired a committee to draw up plans for a Ph.D program in Theatre and from thence forward served on the faculty of The Graduate Center as well as Hunter College.
By 1970, there was a separate Department of Theatre and Cinema, with Vera Roberts as its Chair - a position she held until 1980. In addition to her teaching at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, she served on a committee of the Division of Humanities and the Arts, under Dean Gerald Freund that attracted a million-dollar grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that allowed for much innovative team teaching and eventuated in the publication of a book called Exploration in the Arts. In early 1980, she conceived, planned, and implemented a program at Hunter College called Junior Year in New York. It brought students from schools across the country to study at Hunter College and serve internships in various arts organizations in the city. Professor Roberts also served a term as Executive Officer of the Ph.D Program in Theatre at The Graduate Center. She retired from full-time teaching at the end of 1984 but continued teaching part-time at Hunter College until the end of 2004. Her association with The Graduate Center continued, she advised doctoral dissertations, and, in 1989, conceived, implemented and edited the Journal of American Drama and Theatre (JADT) which was published by the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center at The Graduate Center. At Hunter College, Professor Roberts endowed a scholarship fro an incoming graduate student and, at The Graduate Center, a Dissertation Fellowship. In 2003, on her 90th Birthday, she was feted at a grand reception and dinner at The Graduate Center and on this occasion Vera (as she is fondly called) announced the endowment of a Vera Mowry Roberts Chair in American Theatre.
For her various contributions, Professor Roberts was awarded three Presidential Honors: one from Hunter President Donna Shalala (1984); and a Presidential Medal each from Graduate Center Presidents Harold Proshansky (1990) and Frances Degan Horowitz (2004). During her long career she was also active in national and international levels of theatre education. She was the International Liaison Officer for the American Educational Theatre Association (AETA) and was also one of a group of five people who conceived and implemented the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF) - she was ultimately awarded three medals for her work in this area. She has been the recipient of career achievement awards from both ATA and the American Society for Theatre Research and in 1972 was elected a Fellow of the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Theatre, which has informal ties to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In 1973, she was elected President of the American Theatre Association (successor to AETA) and traveled 80,000 miles during that year throughout the US visiting college campuses, regional meetings and symposia, lecturing and consulting. It was at ATA that Vera established a Women's Program (still promising today), a Senior Adult Theatre Program, and Theatre for the Handicapped Program.
Over the years, in addition to many articles in professional publications, Vera has written five books (notably two published by Harper and Row: On Stage: A History of Theatre, 1962, second edition, 1974 and The Nature of Theatre, 1972. She has also been active in the civic and religious life of New York City serving on the boards of the YWCA, Playwrights Horizons, Direct Theatre, Teatro Espanol and Presbyterian Senior Services. In 1975, she was the first woman ever to be elected Moderator of the Presbytery of New York City, a division of the Presbyterian Church (USA). She wrote, in 1998, for the bicentennial celebration of the Rutgers in Manhattan (where she has been a member since 1961) its history entitled, The Story of Rutgers Church (hard-cover volume, 205 pages). Both professionally and personally, Vera Mowry Roberts has has a long and fruitful career on many fronts