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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Garner retires after decades-long career at Marquette

Photo by Isabel Bonebrake
Dr. Garner became chair of journalism five years ago. She is retiring after this semester.

Ana Garner came to Marquette as a professor 30 years ago. Now in nearly two weeks, Garner is saying goodbye as she enters retirement.

“I feel like it’s the right time for me,” Garner said. “But, the same thing that brought me here is the same thing that’s kept me here all these years … I really liked the people that I’ve worked with all these years.”

Garner is chair of journalism and media studies, digital media and performing arts.

Garner has also served as interim dean of the College of Communication twice throughout her time at Marquette.

As chair of journalism on campus, Garner said she has really tried to keep the traditions alive in the 100-year-old program.

“To continue that strong tradition of turning out really outstanding journalists, I think we’ve done that,” Garner said. “You all are doing just amazing work and to also just ensure that you are being prepared to face the real world of journalism as it changes and evolves and do so in a way that is meaningful to you so that you will be successful, whether it’s in journalism or any place else.”

Prior to Marquette, Garner worked at the University of Iowa where she also eventually ended up getting her master’s and doctorate degree.

As she clears out the office that she’s worked in during the entirety of her time on campus, Garner said she’s finding past student names and old memories from years ago.

“I’m like ‘Wow, it’s been a long time since I thought about that particular student,’ but you all come back to me,” Garner said. “I’m going to be sad. I’m going to miss having you all around my life every day.”

Garner said her students inspire her in ways they probably don’t realize, and she has been here long enough that she’s seen generations of students come through. She said the ways her students think, what they value and what they want to learn gives her hope, not only for the future of journalists, but also for the community and society.

“That’s energizing to me,” Garner said. “And now I’m going to have to read about it in the [Marquette] Tribune just like everybody else.”

Marquette alum John Steppe said he was taken aback by how much Garner cares. Garner was the acting dean for the College of Communication when Steppe met her as a second-semester high school senior. After picking Marquette, he had her not only as a professor his first semester but also as an advisor.

“Obviously there’s the formal advising stuff, but even more than that, the stuff that I cherish was just the impromptu me stopping by her office and picking her brain,” Steppe said. “She really pushed me to think more critically as a journalist.”

Not only taking her advice, Steppe said he probably owes her several pieces of candy that he would also take from her office.

After Garner leaves, Sarah Feldner, dean of the College of Communication, said she’s going to miss students having her as a mentor.

“I hear time and time again how great she is and that she really believes in the work and believes in journalism and its importance for our future,” Feldner said.

Feldner said Garner has impacted the College of Communication as a whole, but she said her influence has also gone beyond Johnston Hall.

“She didn’t just stick to her department,” Feldner said. “She opened her door for anybody, regardless of the department in the college, and so I hope she knows she’s made a big difference.”

Steppe said he’s appreciative of everything Garner has done for him. As a sports journalist covering Iowa football with the Cedar Rapids Gazette, he said she really impacted his growth.

“I really cherish every opportunity that I had with her throughout the four years as a student at Marquette, before that as a prospective student and since then as an alum when I get back to campus,” Steppe said.

Although Steppe is happy for her new adventure in retirement, he said he’s also sad for the next generation of students who won’t have her. He said especially in her introduction to journalism class or her race and gender in mass media class, where he said they had really important, critical conversations that he still thinks about today.

Agreeing with Steppe, McKenna Oxenden, Marquette alum, said she’s also sad future students won’t be able to take Garner’s classes and experience her wisdom.

“At the same time, I am absolutely thrilled for her. She has worked incredibly hard and had a very successful career and deserves this,” Oxenden said in an email.

Oxenden had two classes with Garner: her very first semester and her last semester of college. But, Garner also became her advisor later in her Marquette career.

During her senior year, Garner became someone Oxenden went to for advice and pep talks.

“I’ll never forget getting to give her a big hug after walking across the stage for graduation. She did so much for me. Dr. Garner was always willing to lend a listening ear and share her wisdom, and I am forever grateful that she was a part of my Marquette story,” Oxenden said in an email.

Steppe said Garner genuinely cared about his success and that really meant a lot to him. He said she has truly exemplified what “Cura Personalis,” caring for the whole person, means.

“It’s been a really good run. I didn’t know whether or not I was even going to stay at Marquette. Nobody knows for sure, right?” Garner said. “But, I’m kind of still surprised that I’ve been here as long as I have. It doesn’t feel like it’s been 30 years.”

This story was written by Julia Abuzzahab. She can be reached at [email protected] 

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Julia Abuzzahab
Julia Abuzzahab, Executive Projects Editor
Julia Abuzzahab is a senior from Wausau, Wisconsin studying journalism and film and media studies and is the Executive Projects Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Prior to this position, she served as the Executive News Editor for the organization. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys playing piano and seeing her friends. She is most excited to see all of the work her and her team accomplish this year and spending time with her friends in the newsroom.  

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