George Franz is not quite the senior faculty member at Penn State Brandywine, having begun his career there during the second of the campus' 40 years, but it's hard to imagine anyone who has made a more lasting impression. Franz taught history at the campus for three decades, and has served the last nine years as director of academic affairs (DAA). The campus community held a retirement reception for Franz on June 7, and he will retire from the University at the end of this month.
"George may not have gotten the accolades and attention that some other campus leaders have over the years, but his steady, behind-the-scenes work in building a solid academic foundation at Penn State Brandywine has been critical to the success of the campus," said Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska.
Franz has long understood the mission of Penn State Brandywine, which has been to provide a high-quality, affordable education for all those seeking it. As director of academic affairs, he has made recruiting top-quality, innovative faculty one of his key objectives.
"Our campus is a wonderful example of the land grant mission of the University. We have long provided a fine education for the sons and daughters of the working class," he said. "Nearly 60 percent of the current faculty has been hired since I've been director of academic affairs, and the focus has been on hiring faculty that could inspire our students to do their best in the classroom-and become solid citizens in their everyday lives."
To honor Franz' commitment to hiring and retaining first-rate faculty, the campus has created the George W. Franz Advising and Mentoring Award, an endowment which will annually recognize faculty or staff for their efforts in helping others to achieve their potential. Funds were contributed by Penn State faculty and staff, family and friends, and former students.
Franz has helped launch five of the 10 four-year degree programs at Penn State Brandywine since becoming DAA-Business, Human Development and Family Studies, Information Science and Technology, Corporate Communication and Organizational Leadership. In addition, the Urban Education program had been extensively revised, and is now known as Elementary Education in Multicultural Settings. Franz has also been a key contributor to the academic development of the University through the Faculty Senate, where he served the longest stint in the history of the group (34 years) before leaving in April of this year.
One of the things about the campus Franz takes the greatest pride in is how the faculty, staff, students, alumni, etc. will rally around a cause, especially if the cause involves someone in the Penn State Brandywine family. The campus also has a Center for Community Engagement, which reaches outside of the campus to perform community service on a regular basis.
"When a faculty member or a student needs help, it's amazing how everyone will offer support," said Franz, who among others things was once made into a "human ice cream sundae" on campus to raise money for charity. "We have a really unique academic community here, and I will truly miss dealing with faculty and students on a regular basis."
The faculty will miss Franz as well, including the longest-tenured professor on campus, Assistant Professor of English Elizabeth Buckmaster, who will also retire at the end of June after 40 years at Penn State Brandywine.
"From the day I met George Franz, I knew that he would be my friend forever. He is funny and kind, honest and principled," Buckmaster said. "In addition, he has always been willing to listen as well as give advice."
Corporate Communication Lecturer Joe Biscontini, who served as University Relations director at the campus' inception and currently is a member of the faculty, added: "George ran a complex and vital component of the campus. He has been the linchpin to the campus's success in attracting top-notch faculty and building its new academic programs."
Franz, who lives in Chadds Ford with his wife, Kammy, plans to be more involved with some of the organizations he belongs to, including the Chadds Ford Historical Society and Saint Michael Lutheran Church in Unionville. He is also likely to continue to serve the campus in an advisory capacity.
"George has so much experience and knowledge when it comes to Penn State Brandywine, it would be very beneficial for us if we can keep him involved in the campus as we move forward into the next four decades," said Wisniewska.
Press Contact: David Jwanier, manager or public information, Penn State/Phila. Region, 610-648-3316 or 215-260-6504 (cell).