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A Time to Reflect: Remembering Dean Rita Frantz

University of Iowa College of Nursing Dean Rita Ann Frantz, 68, passed away Wednesday, September 7, 2016, at her home in Iowa City following a long and courageous battle against cancer.

Dean Rita FrantzDr. Frantz grew up on an Iowa farm 20 miles north of Davenport. The experiences of farm life heavily influenced the development of her character and values. It was in this setting that she first learned to respect the precious nature of life and to understand the significance of our environment.

From a very early age, Frantz recognized the importance of education and credits her parents and teachers for instilling that value. By the time she reached high school, Frantz knew that she wanted her academic path to go well beyond undergraduate studies. After earning a master’s degree in Medical/Surgical Nursing and a PhD in Educational Psychology—both from the University of Iowa—Frantz joined UI’s College of Nursing as faculty in 1972. She was appointed Kelting Dean July 1, 2007, and as recently as 2015 was recognized as one of the country’s most influential deans. 

Frantz, RN, FAAN, stepped down as dean and retired as a professor on September 6, 2016—marking the conclusion of a long and distinguished career in nursing. For anyone who ever met her, it did not take long to recognize how Frantz’s innate passion for the profession translated into remarkable, visionary leadership for the college.

Frantz often described observing the professional growth and accomplishments of the college’s students and faculty as the most satisfying aspect of her work—emphasizing that this kind of academic enrichment and professional advancement is a “team effort” that requires the collective contributions of the entire college.

“Reflecting on my 44 years at the college, I realize how much I cherish and value the outstanding people I have had the opportunity to work with and gotten to know personally,” Frantz recently noted. “Serving as dean has been among the most rewarding experiences in my career and I am confident as I move to another phase of life that the College of Nursing will continue to inspire excellence and exceed expectations.”

Rita was married to the love of her life, Dave, and in May, 2016, the two celebrated 46 years of marriage.

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live”—Stuart Scott

We are truly grateful for Dean Frantz’s tireless energy and unwavering dedication. We will miss her inspirational leadership and insightfulness, but more importantly, we will miss her comradery and kind spirit. We will cherish her memory and honor her legacy to the very best of our abilities. Rest in peace.

Click here for more photos of Dean Frantz

Rita with Herky  Rita speaking at 100 Great Nurses  Dave and Rita

*Memorial contributions may be directed to the University of Iowa Foundation to support the Rita and David Frantz Chair in Nursing