Posted on: April 8, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Emma Gomez, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Talking to Wally Fronczek feels like talking to a friend. Even on the phone, you can hear the smile in his voice, and he makes you feel comfortable talking to him about anything. You almost forget that he’s the dean of Liberal Arts–one of the largest academic divisions at Moraine Valley.

Fronczek has spent almost four decades helping to build Moraine Valley–and learning along the way. But before all of that, Fronczek himself was a student at Moraine Valley. And throughout his journey from student to administrator, he has stayed down to earth, always willing to help a student or colleague, never rushing to finish a conversation. He is retiring at the end of this semester after being at Moraine Valley for 38 years.

His colleague of 21 years, communications department chair Tom Dow, says Fronczek has the qualities needed to be a great role model here at Moraine.

“I really have seen him really grow into an incredible leader,” Dow said. “He has a perfect blend of professionalism, leadership, and warmth.” 

He has the ability to make anyone feel comfortable, which can be seen through his caring manner and his excited voice. One reason Fronczek has the ability to relate to anybody is that he was once where they are.

Wally Fronzcek, Tom Dow and Bob Stervowitz take a moment to pose during graduation in 2019.

He came to Moraine as a student for three years and figured out pretty quickly that he wanted to be a part of the Moraine community in the future.

He went on to major in criminal justice counseling at Saint Xavier University, and then did an internship. 

“The internship hired me and then I worked for a place called Cross Roads,” Fronczek said. “I was a youth counselor, so I worked with younger people who were in the criminal justice system, so not in a good place. I had to work with them to get their lives back together.”

That job helped shape him into a person who always wants to help others.

While he was working as a youth counselor, he got a call from Moraine with a perfect job opening for him. Even though he liked what he was doing, he said he “was always very fond of Moraine and always had a great experience there.”

When Fronczek first came here in 1984, he worked as an orientation aide and then in College Activities, where he became director. He began to grow and expand his knowledge, becoming assistant dean of Student Life and Judicial Affairs, and then assistant dean over the Fine and Performing Arts Center. He has been dean of Liberal Arts since 2004. Over the years, Fronczek had a hand in curriculum, working more with faculty, the honors program, and student government. He taught psychology and College 101 for 15 years, which gave him the opportunity to work more closely with students.

Ten years ago, Fronczek finished his doctorate degree in community college leadership at National Louis University. 

“It was the hardest thing I had to do,” he said proudly. “It took me about four years, and I was working full time, but it was very rewarding.” 

President Sylvia Jenkins has known Fronczek since 1986. Jenkins watched him grow and pour himself into the Moraine community. 

“He’s impacted the school just from him being a part of the community,” Jenkins said with a smile. “It spreads to the community as a whole, people he knows. He talks about how good of a place it is.” 

Fronczek’s passion comes through when he talks about one of the things he is most proud of: being part of a group that helped pass an $89 million referendum to improve the college.

“It really changed the campus. We added three or four new buildings,” Fronczek said. “The C building and the M building were not here, so the referendum helped us provide a lot more services and classrooms for the students.” 

Jenkins talks about Fronczek’s responsibility for the Fine and Performing Arts Center and how he has significantly impacted it. She says the music department alone has grown tremendously under Fronczek’s leadership. 

Throughout their years at Moraine, they have helped each other grow and leaned on each other when needed, sharing advice on parenting since they have children that are close in age. 

Jenkins wants the Moraine community, especially students, to know how hard Fronczek has worked to get where we are at Moraine today. 

“The students should know how much of what they are experiencing in student life is because of Dr. Fronczek,” Jenkins said. “He’s had the biggest impact on student life, and students should know that.” 

He has impacted other areas of the college as well. In 2019, the Moraine speech team created a new tournament which it named after Fronczek.

John Nash, head coach of the team, said at the time that he didn’t hesitate to honor Fronczek in this way: “He goes above and beyond helping the team and has been a champion of the speech team for years…We thought naming a tournament after him would create an annual reminder for generations to come of just how integral he was, is and will be to this activity.”

He’s been leading so many of us in such positive and inspiring ways that it would be impossible to count how many faculty and students’ lives that he’s touched in a positive way.”

Tom Dow, Communications Department Chair

Dow, who started working directly with Fronczek in 2004, says he is proud they were able to add two new languages to the communications department’s offerings.

“The first language was Arabic, and then we’ve also brought American Sign Language,” Dow said. “And those are two really big projects that were specifically in my department, but Wally provided a great deal of leadership for.” 

Reflecting on all of Fronczek’s years at the college, Dow has a hard time finding the words for just how much he has affected Moraine.

“The ways Wally has impacted the college are really countless,” Dow said. “He’s been leading so many of us in such positive and inspiring ways that it would be impossible to count how many faculty and students’ lives that he’s touched in a positive way.”

Jenkins has well wishes for Fronczek after he leaves Moraine: “He’s been an absolutely wonderful partner and colleague. He will be very missed, and I am so grateful to him and for him.”

Although Fronczek will miss the college tremendously, he is excited for his new journey outside of Moraine Valley.

“It’s going to be strange to not come here in the morning,” he said. “I am looking forward to it though. It’ll be nice to have a lighter schedule and get to some warmer weather and play more golf.”