Dr. Andrea Frantz

June 6, 2018

Dr. Andrea Frantz, professor of digital media, was named the 32nd recipient of the George Wythe Award, Buena Vista University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching, at the University’s Employee Recognition Celebration on May 25. 

“Being the recipient of this year’s George Wythe Award is an incredible honor,” said Frantz. “It’s beyond humbling to be counted among colleagues, both current and past, whose teaching I’ve long admired.” 

A native of Grinnell, Frantz is a 1986 graduate of Simpson College, where she majored in English and German. She received a master’s degree in rhetoric and composition from Iowa State University (ISU) in 1989 and a Ph.D. in rhetoric and professional communication from ISU in 2003. 

“I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of running toward the fire as opposed to away from it. To that end, I believe in the importance of taking risks, asking hard questions, and setting the bar high – this is how students accomplish the seemingly unthinkable.”

Dr. Andrea Frantz

Frantz has BVU roots that date back nearly 30 years. She was a mass communication instructor at the University from 1989 to 1993, and she taught English from 1996 to 1998. Before becoming a member of the BVU faculty again in 2012, Frantz was an associate professor of journalism at Robert Morris University (RMU) in Moon Township, Pa., where she was also head of the Communication Department. Frantz also taught at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., from 1998 to 2009. 

Frantz discovered her passion for the classroom when she was hired as a teaching assistant in 1987 while earning her master’s degree at ISU. 

“I thought I was going to be a writer but being inside of the classroom lit something inside of me,” said Frantz. “I realized that although teaching may never make me rich or famous, it would equip me with the tools to make a difference in the world.” 

Frantz specializes in First Amendment law, journalism ethics, and writing. She is also the executive board president of the Society for Collegiate Journalists (SCJ) and is responsible for chartering BVU’s SCJ chapter in the fall of 2012. 

“I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of running toward the fire as opposed to away from it,” said Frantz. “To that end, I believe in the importance of taking risks, asking hard questions, and setting the bar high – this is how students accomplish the seemingly unthinkable.” 

The Wythe Award includes a $30,000 stipend and a sabbatical for the recipient to pursue professional development and/or research. Though Frantz hasn’t made any definitive plans, she would like to use funds from the award to attend a Transom Story Workshop, which is a prestigious, nine-week, residential training program that is held each year in Woods Hole, Mass. and focuses on radio production and audio storytelling. 

Frantz is also working on a book of photography that includes images of a small village located in southwest Ireland known as Sneem, where Frantz takes BVU students every other year to participate in an ongoing community journalism project. Frantz plans to use part of the award stipend to travel to, and briefly live in, Sneem to capture additional photos for her book and to attend the annual Sneem International Storytelling & Folklore Festival. 

Frantz was nominated for the George Wythe Award by fellow professors, professional colleagues, alumni, and current students. The other finalists for this year's award included Miranda Pollock, assistant professor of graphic design; Dr. Gwen Hart, associate professor of English; and Dr. Bethany Larson, professor of theatre. 

The Wythe Award is endowed through a gift from the late BVU Life Trustee Drs. Paul and Vivian McCorkle (Class of 1958). The award is named for George Wythe, the educator whose students included Thomas Jefferson John Marshall, James Monroe, and Henry Clay. 

“I love working with young people to help them realize their dreams, passions, and full potential,” added Frantz. “It’s like being invited to ride shotgun on an exciting road trip. There may be some unknown curves, but the final destination makes it all worthwhile. It’s truly an honor to be invited to sit alongside students’ as they fulfill their journeys.”