In Memoriam: Frank Andrews, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

With enormous gratitude, we celebrate the life of University of California, Santa Cruz Professor Emeritus Frank Andrews, who died of cancer on January 31, 2024, at age 91. 

Frank joined UC Santa Cruz in 1967 as a tenured professor. Although he officially retired in 2006, he continued to teach classes until 2017. During his remarkable career spanning over five decades, he inspired thousands of students through his teaching of chemistry, human values, and personal empowerment. 

One student reflected, “Frank challenged me to become a better person in my life. I gained the inspiration and passion to make my life a better one to live. I learned what I want out of life. There is nothing more I want from a course than that.”


Frank was born on May 29, 1932, in Manhattan, Kansas, home to Kansas State University (KSU), where his father was on the faculty and his mother was an alum and valedictorian. He attended KSU and was drawn to math, physics, and chemistry and also became a valedictorian. He earned a Fulbright fellowship in 1954, which took him to the University of Hull in England where he studied advanced mathematics. 

Frank was drafted into the United States Army in 1955, as the Korean War was winding down. He served in Houston, Texas, conducting background interviews for candidates for security clearance.

Frank then went to graduate school at Harvard University, and traveled to Brussels to work under Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Laureate. He earned a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry, in an unusually rapid three years. He worked as a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley under Dudley Herschbach, also a Nobel Laureate. He joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1961, where he was an assistant professor of chemistry for six years, then came to UC Santa Cruz in 1967.

Frank was very excited to be coming to the new, experimental campus here in Santa Cruz. At UC Santa Cruz, Frank’s passion for teaching and deep love and care for students flourished. Eventually, his focus on students’ psychological health inspired him to earn a masters degree in Clinical Psychology.

Transformed by His Students

Upon arriving at UC Santa Cruz, Frank and his wife Jean took up a post as residential preceptors in Rutherford House, a Crown College dorm. Living with students for five years in the late 1960s and early 1970s allowed Frank to see their passions, potential, and struggles first-hand. 

“I fell in love with the students. Here were these brilliant, powerful kids,” Frank recounted in his 2014 oral history, “and yet they didn’t seem to be able to enjoy their lives very well and they didn’t seem to be fulfilling their intellectual potential.” 

This realization permanently expanded Frank’s focus as a university professor. In addition to helping students understand the complexity of chemistry, he turned much of his attention to the complexity of being human. For example, observing that unplanned student pregnancies were a frequent occurrence in the dorms, Frank began offering a sex education lecture when the students arrived in the fall, a fairly radical move for the time. The need for the information was great and the lectures were very well attended. 

Through his three signature courses, Teaching Science in the University (Chem 137), Solving Problems/Personal Empowerment (NatSci 120/Merrill 120), and Science and Human Values/Examining Our Life through Writing (Chem 80B/Crown 123), Frank mentored students in how best to “experience more control over our lives, to choose and solve problems which lead to our own long-term satisfaction and to the enrichment of our society, and to create and experience community and mutual support.”

Open Doors

Together, Frank and Jean frequently invited students into their apartment in Crown, a practice which they continued when they moved to their current home on the westside of Santa Cruz. “My parents were an amazing team, welcoming countless students into our home,” said their daughter, Karen Andrews. “Together they fed, counseled, consoled, advised, taught, cheered, and healed them, acting as friends, pastors, parents, and grandparents. Students craved and deeply appreciated their wise counsel and unconditional acceptance.”

Three times each week Frank walked to campus and back, a three-mile, uphill trek. He kept extensive office hours and had a large comfortable sofa next to his desk for students to sit on. For the times he wasn’t in his office, he placed his home phone number on the outside of his door that encouraged students to “call with problems” of any kind. Generations of students did.

UC Santa Cruz alum Christopher Snow commented, “When you walk into his office (and his door is always open) you know he’s really interested in you, and he’s not going to start shuffling papers in 30 seconds, as if to tell you how busy he is.”


Frank summarized his educational philosophy in the UC Santa Cruz publication he founded, Teacher on the Hill: “I work to see each student as a marvelous human whose suffering or rejoicing is as important as the suffering or rejoicing of anyone else – regardless of how well they do in my classes. I want people to be able to make choices and live with the consequences of those choices. If those choices lead them to stress some other class while slighting mine, so be it. I believe that what is important is the meta-education: ‘what you have left when you’ve forgotten everything you learned in school.’ I want what people have left to include good feelings about themselves as worthwhile, responsible, choosing people who count for something.”

Frank won numerous teaching awards, both on campus and from outside organizations, including the UC Santa Cruz Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991. In addition to his dedication to student well-being, he was also extremely skilled at the craft of teaching traditional academic content in his general chemistry and thermodynamics classes. Even students who only encountered Frank in his large introductory Chem 1A class often described the experience as transformative. 

Frank pioneered an alternative model of teaching lower division chemistry students in which upper division science majors mentored study sections. The peer mentors would simultaneously enroll in “Teaching Science in the University” (Chem 137), and receive a weekly seminar on teaching at Frank’s home, which included homemade desserts from Jean. While controversial at the time, peer teaching programs have since been adopted widely and are accepted as highly effective.

Numerous Chem 137 students went on to become transformative teachers themselves, and credit Frank with inspiring and supporting them on their path, as well as role-modeling the type of profound difference teachers can make. One of Frank’s many teaching protégés, UC Santa Cruz alum Michael Morgan, went on to win countless awards as a chemistry teacher at a low-income high school in Los Angeles. In 2017, Morgan decided to endow a chair at UC Santa Cruz in Frank’s honor. The chair will be focused on excellence in science education.

“We spend far too little time on the values implications of the material taught,” Frank wrote in a 1972 critique of the educational system. From this initial concern, Frank began experimenting with another class, which he first called “The Phenomenon of Man,” then “Science and Human Values” (Chem 80B), and eventually evolved into “Examining Our Life Through Writing” (Crown 123). Found in the appendix of his oral history, the syllabus of this class outlined a series of writing exercises, ranging from exploring each student’s highest values, reflecting on death and dying while writing a living will, and writing a retrospective positive vision of their entire life. In addition to the longer writing assignments, he required students to write 10-minute “free-writes” at the end of each class meeting. He always read and responded to all of them, an astonishing feat for a class of 40 to 60 students that met three times a week!

It is hard to overstate the impact that his Solving Problems/ Personal Empowerment class had on the many groups of students fortunate enough to take the class. In the course description, he wrote: “The following topics will receive special focus: Problems, purposes, and goals; Meaning in life; Romantic and other relationships; The steps of solving problems; What’s it all for, and how do you experience love, gratitude, caring, community, concern, delight, enthusiasm, joy, sensitivity, surrender, and wonder in the process of it all.” 

Reflecting on his own participation in this class, son-in-law Chris Lay urged everyone to “take the time to read the whole syllabus for this class and reflect on how your life might change if you integrated even part of what he laid out in it. The description, the agreements, the exercises, and of course his masterful facilitation of the class stands as a powerful example of humanity at its finest.” 

After one of his Solving Problems classes ended in spring of 1987, his students were so closely bonded with one another that they decided to keep meeting each week. When Frank and Jean returned from vacation that summer, the students invited them to join the newly formed group. Thirty-seven years later that support/problem-solving/advice group still meets weekly in the Andrews’ home.

Campus Leadership

When UC Santa Cruz was just a few years old, Frank influenced foundational policies and programs as a member of the campus Committee on Education Policy, the UC Santa Cruz and state-wide Academic Senates, and the Committee on Narrative Evaluations. Frank helped promote the creation of the Environmental Studies Department, as well many other interdisciplinary programs, independent majors, and similar efforts.

Frank was the key advocate for removing the “F” from UC Santa Cruz transcripts, replacing it with a Pass/No Record system. He saw how devastating a single bad grade could be to a student’s future, and believed that students with tremendous talent and potential were being unnecessarily held back by traditional grading systems. He was a strong champion for the narrative evaluation system, supporting its continued existence within UC Santa Cruz for as long as he was able.


Frank was an avid reader and his intellectual interests evolved over his career. He delved into educational theory when he came to UC Santa Cruz. He gleaned ideas from the human potential movement. He also read extensively from many of the great minds of Eastern thought. He wrote constantly, working out and refining his ideas, creating handouts for his classes, innumerable graduation speeches, and serving as the editor of the campus publication, Teacher on the Hill, which featured fourteen editions in the 1970s.

Frank authored three textbooks on thermodynamics and statistical mechanics early in his career, followed by The Art and Practice of Loving (free download or bound copy) and Choosing Your Way through Life, co-authored with UC Santa Cruz alum Ron Richardson. 

The Art and Practice of Loving was translated into six languages and remained in print with its original publisher for over twenty years. Amazon reviewer Steven wrote, “This is my favorite book of all time. It teaches you the most important lessons you can learn in life – how to love in every moment.” The book has been used in numerous classes and groups throughout the world.


Throughout Frank’s career, writings, and personal life, he thought deeply about his highest values and how to live by them. As his daughter, Elizabeth Andrews, recalled, “Dad continually looked for ways to to turn the mundane into the sacred. When teaching general chemistry, he took a standard footnote about academic honesty and turned it into an inspiring lecture about your highest values and the meaning of your university education. When playing the piano he challenged himself to let go of being note-perfect and on tempo and to fall in love with the music, the sound of the piano, and the emotional flow the composer might have been expressing. When staring at a lawn full of dandelions, he didn’t see a patch of weeds, or a to-do list item, but a field of bright yellow flowers. When talking to a student struggling with whether to be a businessman like their parents wanted, or a teacher like they wanted, my dad encouraged them to follow their heart, and surrounded them with reasons and approval for doing so. And when students struggled with the pains of life – the challenges of abuse, disappointment, breakups, roommate issues, financial hardship, health problems, etc. – my father encouraged them to think of their problems as ‘Another F-ing Growth Opportunity’ – or AFGO.”

In his 1999 address at the wedding of his daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Chris, he articulated his philosophy that “love is a heartfelt ‘yes,’” a choice we can make in every moment. We do this so that “when we are finished on this planet, each of us will know we have loved, cared, and served, that we have truly lived as we were meant to live.” 

For the last forty years of his life, including through his worsening dementia, Frank practiced gratitude daily. In his 2014 oral history, Frank reflected, “I was fortunate beyond belief—every aspect of my life, the way it ended up, ended up wonderfully for me.”

High school teacher James Colligan reflected on Frank’s legacy: “I wouldn’t be who I am today unless you [Jean] and Frank had taken me under your wing, and shared your home and your family and your dinner table with me…. How do you thank someone for that? I suppose I say, thank you. But I also want you to know that I pay it forward, that I try to spread ripples of community and peace where I am, here in Sacramento. I’ve taught thousands of students, and many of them are better people now, because I taught them to be kinder and more patient with themselves. That’s the best way I know to respect Frank’s memory, is to continue being a teacher and husband and father from a place of love and strength.”

In Memory

Frank’s memory will live on at UC Santa Cruz through the numerous former students and colleagues he influenced and through the courses and practices he helped to shape. He is survived by his wife of nearly six decades, Jean Andrews, his daughters Karen and Elizabeth Andrews, his son-in-law Chris Lay, and his grandchildren Laurel and Brooke Andrews.

A memorial will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, 2024, at the Stevenson Event Center at UC Santa Cruz. All are welcome.

Donations in his memory can be directed to The Frank Andrews Fund for Undergraduate Empowerment. Donations will be used to support undergraduate opportunities similar to those provided by the classes Frank designed and taught. The fund will be administered by the Ken Norris Center for Natural History at UC Santa Cruz. Frank and Jean were the first major donors to the Norris Center and instrumental in its creation.

Anyone wishing to share a memory of Frank publicly can do so here. Those wishing to share something with Frank’s family can mail it to:

Chris Lay, c/o ENVS
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064