Susan Frye: Making a Difference One Student at a Time
Students continuously use that word to describe University of Wyoming Department of English Professor Susan Frye, who has influenced countless students with her positive outlook and passion for English literature.
Her influence on students has earned Frye the Ellbogen Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award, established in 1977 by businessman John P. "Jack" Ellbogen, to "foster, encourage, and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW." Winners are selected from a list nominated by students, and the awards are based entirely on classroom performance and helpfulness to students. Other recipients this year are Rachel Watson, an instructor in the Department of Molecular Biology, and Margaret Flanigan, associate lecturer in the Department of Zoology and Physiology.
"I found myself mesmerized by her teaching, by the way that even as she asked so much of her students she instinctively knew how to reach us all, to make us feel intimately connected to Shakespeare's writings and early modern English history," said Jennifer Monroe, one of Frye's former students who is now a professor at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
With an accumulating list of awards, accomplishments and publications, Frye is considered by students to be an excellent teacher because she shares her deep passion for literature while helping them develop and prepare for their lives to come.
"Throughout her outstanding teaching, Susan has made a difference in her students' lives: I can think of countless students who have told me how hard they worked under her tutelage, how much their minds opened and how much they grew as scholars and as thinking beings," wrote English Department Head Peter Parolin.
When Professor Susan Aronstein was looking for someone to teach a thesis writing class for the M.A. program, Frye was her first choice.
"I knew that she would tell the students when their writing was not up-to-par and work with them tirelessly to help them improve it (it's the rare teacher who does both of these things)," wrote Aronstein.
"As difficult as the material was, Dr. Frye was always willing to work with me and other students in the class to help us understand and comprehend the theorists we were learning," said Courtney Carlisle, one of Frye's former students. "At the same time she offered valuable advice and guidance on how to apply our major to future careers. As a teacher and educator, Dr. Frye was always open to questions and concerns."
"It's time. It really is," wrote Cedric Reverand, professor of English, summing up the reasons for Frye's Ellbogen Award selection. "Twenty-five years of inspired teaching, student evaluations that use words like ‘amazing,' ‘wonderful,' ‘fantastic,' ‘awesome' and one that simply begins ‘Wow!' We should have done this years ago."
In 1974 Frye earned her B.A. degree as a cum laude graduate from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. With distinction in English, Frye earned her M.A. in 1981 from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, N. M., and graduated with her Ph.D. in English from Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.
University of Wyoming English Professor Susan Frye reviews a reading assignment with Harry Whitlock, a student in Frye's Shakespeare Seminar. (UW Photo)