Professor Marcia Pentz Wins 2024 Whit Broome Award

Pentz, honored with McIntire's Whit Broome Faculty Service Award, sets a standard for leadership and service through her steadfast devotion to students and tireless community engagement.

Marcia Pentz

McIntire School of Commerce Professor Marcia Pentz was recently selected by her colleagues as the recipient of the 2024 Whit Broome Faculty Service Award. Pentz is the fourth faculty member to be chosen for the annual honor endowed by Professor Emeritus Whit Broome, which acknowledges Comm School faculty members who give back to the community and their discipline in various capacities beyond teaching and research.

With expertise in management communication, Pentz teaches Communication, Public Speaking, and Corporate Communication in the undergraduate Integrated Core, and serves as Communication Coordinator for the M.S. in Accounting Program. Outside of the classroom, Pentz is widely admired for her commitment to students and peers, dedicating her time to roles in support of students in the Meriwether Lewis Institute, the Jefferson Scholars, and many more, as well as important contributions to her area, the School, the University, and her profession.

“Marcia serves in many formal and informal roles,” says Professor Gary Ballinger, Management Area Coordinator. “Through all of this, she works to build a community through her connection to students with compassion and understanding. She takes extra time in all of this to engage in hands-on work to help them become influential, effective leaders who can shape their story.”

It’s difficult to recount all of Pentz’s service “because she works in so many different arenas” he adds. “She works with students all across the University and is a leader in curriculum development for Management Communication in our undergraduate program.”

Professor Ryan Wright, McIntire’s Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Research, says Pentz “embodies the essence of commitment and service that the Whit Brome Service Award seeks to honor.” Emphasizing her “tireless dedication to the University,” Wright acknowledges “her profound impact on the broader community that has set a benchmark for service and engagement. We are proud to recognize her with the award as a tribute to her outstanding service.”

An Award with Personal Meaning

For Pentz, the honor holds extra significance. “The award means so much coming from my colleagues. And it’s named after Whit Broome, whom I absolutely adored. He was a true gentleman who cared about everyone else in the building,” she recalls. “When I got the award, I thought of Whit’s smile; on a personal level, having worked with him, it means a great deal.”

Having welcomed the opportunity to work with “many different people, personalities, and approaches to teaching,” Pentz says she’s learned a great deal about her profession by teaching with others, particularly in the Integrated Core courses.

“I adore my Communication colleagues. There’s also a constant collaboration, across disciplines so it’s also like a quilt,” she says. “We find people reach out to us to talk teaching, and to brainstorm ideas for research and the classroom. I also know I can always go to any of my colleagues and ask them to think through a problem in the classroom or how to improve student experience overall.”

Office Hours and Then Some

While she has always worked with students outside of the classroom during her 22 years teaching at McIntire, she has made a concerted effort since the pandemic to try to help them relax.

“They are so stressed right now, and I just try to make it welcoming and open,” Pentz says. “Having a culture that shows them we’re on their side has been important to me—always, but especially in the last couple of years. I try to have a positive impact by working intentionally to make McIntire as welcoming as possible. Additionally, I speak with many different student organizations across Grounds in any given semester—from working with graduate nursing students to judging oratory contests, to sharing advice about the highly useful direct-style communication that we espouse throughout McIntire.”

Professor Kiera Allison explains that Pentz exemplifies an unwavering commitment to educational equity in her dedication to serve the University’s diverse student body.

“For Marcia, that work begins with empowering voices—helping students find the confidence to speak up and make an impact as thinkers, innovators, and advocates. But it’s the approach, as much as the content of her teaching, that allows her to connect so widely.”

Allison recalls the unique skills Pentz has exhibited in helping students to develop their voices through hard work and trust. “It’s Marcia’s unique combination of rigor and compassion that creates the conditions for students to flourish and grow under her guidance. There is a classroom anecdote that really captures this: It was monologue day in her Public Speaking class, and students had to recite Shakespeare off script,” she recalls. “One student got up to present and completely blanked. And Marcia, instead of allowing this student to step down, stood up herself and began coaching and prompting the student, line by line, until she got through her speech. The episode pretty well encapsulates Marcia’s instructional ethos—her public speaking students are encouraged to work through their fear but never alone;  Marcia would walk with that student every uphill step of the way.”

Professor Rob Patterson, who has an office two doors down from her, calls Pentz “an oracle for students and her office a beacon for and a comfort station to students.” He notes the “well-worn pathway” to her office, where she supports students with her passion for the subject material she teaches. “I’m not sure in my 32 years of teaching I’ve ever been around a colleague quite like her. She epitomizes the adage of a person who breaks the mold,” he insists. “Marcia wakes up wanting to engage students, wanting to make their experience at McIntire just that more meaningful, and wanting to make them as whole as they can be before they leave us, to live out their professional and personal lives. It’s wonderful to behold.”

Pentz’s tireless work with students often extends outside of the Commerce School—even if some of those commitments unexpectedly lead back to it, as she has proven to be one of the Comm School’s most public champions.

Having recently held a two-hour seminar with graduate students at the School of Nursing, she says, “It feels as if whenever I’m out, I end up talking about McIntire.”

During a recent vacation to Asheville, NC, she found herself chatting with a fellow guest at a bed and breakfast, who revealed she was helping a student try to get accepted as a transfer student into UVA, and into the Comm School. “I ended up getting a text from the young man. I’m on vacation, and I’m connecting with potential McIntire students,” she says with a laugh.

“I feel very much that this award is an articulation of what I’ve already felt, which is that we really are a community,” says Pentz. “The strength of our community is all our responsibility, and it means a great deal to me to be honored for that.”

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