Professor Profile

Deacon Dr. Stephen Frezza

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Professor Profile

Deacon Dr. Stephen Frezza

Software Engineering Program director talks engineering and faith.

Winter 2023 | Melissa Zifzal

In This Article

Deacon Stephen Frezza, professor of software engineering and director of the Software Engineering Program, came to Franciscan University in 2021 to take on a sizable task: develop the University’s new four-year mechanical engineering and software engineering degrees and support the current engineering dual-degree program.

He is excited about this opportunity and says Franciscan’s new program is “uniquely Catholic.” Along with offering rigorous coursework, the two majors incorporate intentional virtue and character development.

“Only one, maybe two other schools are doing this,” Deacon Steve comments.

The newly formed Department of Engineering and Computing can also seek ways to better serve the Church, he says, mentioning the recent Virtue in a Virtual World ethics conference in which researchers from around the world shared how virtue is reflected in the development of software and technology.

According to Deacon Steve, a key goal for the two degrees is to achieve ABET accreditation, signifying they meet or exceed national engineering education standards. That can take place once Franciscan’s first cohort of four-year engineers graduates in 2025. But already, he has fielded inquiries from employers.

“Companies want students who have integrity that’s rooted into who they are, and as Christians, as Catholics, we have a lot to offer in that space,” he says.

And as a deacon, he leads by example. Assigned to the Wintersville parishes of Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Lourdes, he prefers to be called Deacon Steve, though he is officially “Deacon Dr.”—and his kids call him “Deacon Dr. Dad.”

Deacon Steve earned his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. He previously served for 26 years as professor of software engineering and was three-time chair of the Computer Information and Science Department at Gannon University. In addition, he was recently appointed chair of the steering committee for the Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference. He also served a five-year term on the steering committee that authored the Computing Curricula 2020 (CC2020), a document that provides a framework for undergraduate computing programs around the world.

While engineering occupies much of his schedule, Deacon Steve tries to make time for what he calls “weird hobbies,” including shooting antique rifles, tipi camping, Native American beadwork, and sewing. In the past, he has also been a historical reenactor for the 1812 and Civil War periods and a park service volunteer.

He and his wife, Margie, live in Wintersville, which he says doesn’t live up to its name. “I only had to pull out my snow blower once last winter. It was pretty pathetic,” he jokes, referencing his former home of Erie, Pennsylvania, which often holds the top spot for America’s snowiest city.

The Frezzas have five grown children, three sons and twin daughters, ranging in age from 29 to 19.

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