Dean's Award

Cranford honored for her dedication to journalism

By Erin Dolan
J Alumni News staff

Andrea Cranford, director of communications for NU’s Alumni Association, has always been certain of a few things. She always knew she would attend the University of Nebraska, and she knew she would be a writer. She didn’t know, however, that her dedication to and love for the College of Journalism and Mass Communications would make her the recipient of the Dean’s Award at J Days in April 2000.

Cranford said she wanted to be writer since the fifth grade. In the summer of 1965, when she was 15, she got a summer job at NU. She typed envelopes for $1 an hour for the Division of Continuing Studies.

That summer solidified her desire to attend NU. She loved the campus, the people and the atmosphere.

A deep love for NU ran through Cranford’s bloodlines, and she wanted to continue the proud legacy that began so many years before. She was the third generation of her family to attend the university. Her grandfather and both parents graduated from NU.

By the time Cranford enrolled at NU, she was ready and willing to plunge into journalism endeavors of all sorts. She worked on the Cornhusker Yearbook and on the Daily Nebraskan, the student paper, as the news editor, the managing editor and finally the business editor.

After earning an advertising degree in 1971, Cranford worked for the advertising department of Sears Roebuck and Co. in Lincoln. The same year, she left Sears and joined the University of Nebraska Alumni Association.

When Cranford returned to the NU, she jumped right back into the campus she loved, and she has been immersed in the university world for the last 30 years.

She has been the faculty adviser for the Cornhusker Yearbook since its revival in 1999. Cranford said reviving the yearbook, which had not been printed since 1972, proved a challenge. Cranford said it was difficult to get the campus interested in it again but that she and yearbook staff were proud of what they had accomplished so far.

Cranford, president of the professional chapter of the Nebraska Press Women, serves as the adviser for the student chapter of the Nebraska Press Women.

Sandi Alswager, president of the student chapter of the Nebraska Press Women, said she looked up to Cranford.

“She tries to motivate the members,” Alswager said. “She encourages them to excel in their careers. She tells them not to let anything get in the way of what they want to achieve.”

Cranford said she enjoyed being involved in students’ lives. She said she saw unlimited talent in many young women on campus through her involvement with Nebraska Press Women and with student interns at the Alumni Association. She said the Alumni Association began hiring student interns about 20 years ago.

Jessica Kennedy, former assistant director of alumni relations for the Alumni Association, was an intern and worked with Cranford while in college. She said Cranford taught her how important it was to have a mentor.

“Andrea is always there for me — spiritually, personally, emotionally and professionally,” Kennedy said. “That’s why I ran the intern program for the Alumni Association. I want to give back what was given to me.”

From 1991 to 1999 Cranford was the liaison for the Nebraska Alumni Association to the journalism college. That job and her dedication to NU, the journalism college and the students were all reasons she was selected to receive the Dean’s Award this year. Dean Will Norton Jr. said Cranford earned the award for her “intense dedication.”

Dean Will Norton Jr. said Cranford “made things happen” for the journalism college. She kept the college updated about outstanding alumni, organized the reception for graduating seniors, started an annual faculty/journalism alumni board barbecue each fall and the annual spring awards luncheon.

“A basketball coach would love to have her on the team,” Norton said. Not only does Cranford know how to lead a team, but “she can play defense. She does everything she can to help the college and the university. We wanted to show her she is appreciated.”