Frank, Virginia Lee, 1937-2005
"Virginia Lee Frank is UNO's 2016 Legendary Woman of the 1960s. Her enthusiasm for literacy and teaching was boundless, and she dedicated more than 40 years to UNO as a student, instructor, and professor.
"Virginia, affectionately known as Ginny to her friends and colleagues, was a 1955 alumnae of Central High School who went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in English and history from UNO (then known as Omaha University) in 1959. She graduated summa cum laude, and for her academic excellence Ginny was granted the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for graduate studies. Attending Brown University as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Ginny graduated with her Master of Arts in English in 1961 .
"Invited back to her alma mater to teach, Ginny excitedly returned to UNO as faculty in 1961 under university president Milo Bail. She was a pioneer in the classroom and in the English department, being one of the first to incorporate popular genres into her courses. Ginny infused her enthusiasm for genres such as detective fiction and the western novel into her teaching, engaging students while also helping to grow the number of English majors.
"In 1968, she was promoted from Instructor to Assistant Professor of English. Ginny helped to bring more diverse course offerings to UNO's English department, including Native American literature courses and women's literature courses among others; she was also a strong supporter and early faculty of UNO's Native American Studies program. As a faculty member, Ginny was fiercely passionate and described as 'indefatigable' by her colleagues; she served twice as the director of freshman English, was honored in 1979 with a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at the Institute on Writing at the University of Iowa, and founded the Nebraska Literature Festival (now Nebraska Book Festival) in 1991.
"Ginny retired from UNO in 1999, following 38 years of teaching. After retirement, she remained active in the community, volunteering thousands of hours during her life with the Friends of Omaha Public Library. Today, the Friends of Omaha Public Library honor Ginny's memory and life's work with the annual Virginia Frank Memorial Writing Contest for young adults and teens.
"Ginny leaves behind an amazing legacy to inspire future Mavericks; her tireless efforts in and outside of the classroom and ceaseless enthusiasm for literacy and learning have helped shape the UNO we know today."
Source: "University of Nebraska at Omaha's Legendary Women present the 2016 Legendary Woman: Virginia Lee Frank, 1937-2005," flyer prepared by the Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women and the UNO Alumni Association for the Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women 30th Annual Luncheon, March 10, 2016.