Communications chair Bob Frank to retire

Hannah Johnson, Campus Carrier Reporter

After nearly four decades at Berry, Bob Frank will retire at the end of the semester from his position as department chair and associate professor of communication.

Frank left the University of Richmond to begin teaching at Berry in 1979 and has created a legacy full of inspiration and leadership.

When Frank began his career at Berry, the communication department was non-existent. Frank has systematically evolved and grown the major and department from its humble beginnings, serving as department chair since the start. Faculty and students alike discussed what Frank means to Berry.

                                                                               Photos contributed by Kevin Kleine
Top: Bob Frank, department chair and Associate Professor of Communication, speaks
with communication faculty.  Frank is retiring at the end of the semester after 36
years at Berry.
Bottom: Bob Frank (left, with alumna Kim Treese in 2013) is retiring at the end of
the semester.  He is the only chair the communication department has ever had. 

“We are Bob Frank.  His DNA, his ethos, is imprinted on every aspect of the department,” Brian Carroll, professor of communication, said. “From courses, to faculty and the way we do things, his influence is in every aspect of who we are and what we do.”

Communication did not have its own department when Frank began working at Berry.

“There was one speech major when I first started and we were the Department of English and Speech-Theater,” Frank said. “In 1987, we separated from English to become the communication arts program which still included theater.”

Now, however, things are drastically different for the department. Frank has provided leadership for one speech major in 1979 to 125 communication majors in 2015, making communication the fourth largest major at the college.

 After the move from Evans Hall to the Laughlin Building, Frank led the department to change the entire curriculum and look into the future of the communication field.

“We couldn’t teach in silos anymore,” Frank said. “There was something stale in the way we operated. So we changed everything. Now we look forward. We’re adaptive and fresh, and we make changes to stay current with the changing world of communication.”

Provost Kathy Richardson has worked with Frank since 1986 and said Frank has helped foster her growth as a faculty member throughout the years.

“We all need someone to call us to excellence and Bob always does so with a sense of care,” Richardson said. “You know he wants what is best for you and will do whatever it takes to help you.”

Frank has been a mentor and advocate for students, especially for his advisees like junior communication major Louie Spivak.

“(Frank’s) personality is unparalleled, and he has always provided encouragement and enthusiasm as my advisor,” Spivak said.

Curt Hersey, assistant professor of communication, had Frank for a professor when he was a student in the early 90s and now teaches as his colleague. Hersey says when he began teaching in 1997, Frank welcomed Hersey as a peer and treated him as such.

“Frank has fundamentally influenced my teaching career,” Hersey said. “He taught me that if you know what you’re talking about and command respect, you can also have fun.”

While Frank has proven to be vital to the life of the communication department, his influence has reached the campus as a whole.

“Bob has always been a voice for integrity and campus governance,” Richardson said. “He is a stickler for what is right and good. He has a great influence on students, and I don’t know if you have a better legacy than that.”

Carroll has been selected to fulfill the role as department chair beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year.

“I will be looking to build on a firm foundation, Carroll said. “(Frank’s) leadership will continue to have an impact on our team even without his physical presence.”

Frank said he will miss the people at Berry the most.

“Working with people I love, both faculty and students,” Frank said. “It has really been a sheer pleasure.”  

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