Staff

As University Protestant Chaplain, Mehr-Muska Mentors, Offers Confidential Support

As the university’s Protestant chaplain, Tracy Mehr-Muska wears many hats, including mentor, cheerleader, religious tutor, celebrant of sacraments, caregiver, counselor, listener, worship leader and event planner, among others.

As the university’s Protestant chaplain, Tracy Mehr-Muska wears many hats, including mentor, cheerleader, religious tutor, celebrant of sacraments, caregiver, counselor, listener, worship leader and event planner, among others. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this Q&A, meet Tracy Mehr-Muska, Wesleyan’s Protestant chaplain. 

Q: Rev. Mehr-Muska, how long have you been Wesleyan’s Protestant chaplain, and what did you do before this?

A: This is my third year as a university chaplain at Wesleyan. Like many, my professional journey was not a direct route. After graduating from the Coast Guard Academy, I served as a Deck Watch Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. My love of the sea and my degree in Marine/Environmental Science led me to subsequently work as a marine scientist, conducting oceanographic surveys and engineering subsea cable routes for a company that installed transoceanic fiberoptic telecommunications cable. although I loved my job, I felt most deeply fulfilled when attending church, visiting sick or homebound parishioners, or volunteering with the church’s youth. I then transitioned to Princeton Theological Seminary, and after graduating, became an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). I served as a chaplain for a hospice program in Boston, where I ministered to people approaching death and to their families. Although I loved hospice chaplaincy, it has been thrilling and fun to now work with people at the other end of their lives—students newly emerging into adulthood who are working to discern their vocational identity and establish their priorities, distinctiveness and values.

Q: Coming from such a different background, what made you want to become a university chaplain?

A: My years at the Coast Guard Academy were immensely challenging personally, physically, and spiritually. The two caring and patient military chaplains who served as my chaplains were not only instrumental in my surviving, thriving, and graduating, but they were also influential in helping me find joy and deepen my faith.

Gambell, O’Neill Receive Cardinal Achievement Awards

#THISISWHY

Lynne Gambell of the Finance Department and Krystal Gayle O’Neill of Residential Life each received a Cardinal Achievement Award in November.

Gambell, accounting specialist provided assistance to the Physical Plant-Facilities Department by processing more than 100 vouchers in one day. If the vouchers were not processed on time there were concerns that it would negatively impact Wesleyan’s local contractors.

“Lynne demonstrated extraordinary initiative in helping Wesleyan ensure that our contractors were paid in a timely fashion,” said Joyce Topshe, associate vice president for facilities.

Krystal Gayle O’Neill

Krystal Gayle O’Neill

O’Neill, area coordinator, was honored for taking the initiative to create a women’s group on campus. The women’s group has sponsored a number of events over the past several months, including two book club discussions, workshops on self-defense and on investing, as well as “meet and greet” lunches at local restaurants.

“Krystal has created a forum for women at Wesleyan to come together as a community of support and resources,” said Marina Melendez, dean for the Class of 2018.

“She selflessly has given of her time and energy so that we may all benefit, not only through personal and professional development, but also through forming connections with other women at Wesleyan,” said Fran Koerting, director of the Office of Residential Life.

This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts. Award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors. Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year. For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Cardinal Achievement Award website.

Recipients will continue to be recognized in News @ Wesleyan.

See past Cardinal Achievement Award recipients here.

Staff, Students, Posse Fellows Thank Local Veterans for their Service

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Wesleyan staff and students visited the Veterans Home in Rocky Hill. Shown are (back row) Hanhee Song ’17, Andrew Olivieri ’18, Royce Ebenal ’18, Rilwan Babajide ’16. (front row) Hiram Brett (chaplain intern from Yale Divinity School), Shada Sinclair ’16, Carol Ann Cellela (VA chaplain), University Protestant Chaplain Tracy Mehr-Muska, Sarah Dawes ’18, Lydia Ottaviano ’17, Claire Wright ’16, Catherine Alvarado ’16, Olivia Chavez ’15, Raquel Ibarra ’16, Scarlett Harris ’16, and Chukwuemeka Uwakaneme ’16.

On Nov. 9, a group of Wesleyan staff and students visited the Veterans’ Home in Rocky Hill, Conn. They participated in an interfaith service and the singing of patriotic songs in honor of Veterans Day. They also distributed certificates of appreciation to the veterans.

“The engaged and caring students showed the veterans, the oldest of which was 100 years old, such incredible compassion and respect,” said Tracy Mehr-Muska, the university Protestant chaplain. “I was so proud of our students and was incredibly glad that they took advantage of this opportunity to thank the veterans for their service during this special visit.”

Among the students were two Posse Veteran Scholars: Andrew Olivieri ’18 and Royce Ebenal ’18. Mehr-Muska also is a veteran.

30 Vendors Share Green, Sustainable Products with Wesleyan Employees

More than 30 vendors met with Wesleyan staff and faculty Nov. 12 at the 4th annual Green Vendor Show held inside Beckham Hall.

Vendors included W.B. Mason, Sprint, the Inn at Middletown, Raymour & Flanigan, Premier Limo, Fisher Scientific, AT&T, Enterprise, Avery, Smead, Sanford, Dupli, Richo, 3M, Bon Appetit, Gateway Limo and more. Middletown Toyota and Crowley Ford brought four sustainable vehicles.

More than 160 attendees learned about new innovative products and ideas, and received free samples, refreshments and raffle prizes. In exchange for the gifts, attendees were asked to donate non-perishable items for Amazing Grace Food Pantry. About 68 pounds of food and $59 was collected.

The Green Vendor Show was organized by the Purchasing Office. Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Dat Vu ’15)

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Staff on the Move, October 2014

The Office of Human Resources reported the following new hires, transitions and departures for October 2014:

Newly hired
Samantha O’Neill was hired as marketing and outreach coordinator in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program Office on Oct. 1.
Scott Rohde was hired as director of public safety in the Office of Public Safety on Oct. 1.
Anya Backlund was hired as exhibitions coordinator/institute for curatorial practice in performance coordinator in the Center for the Arts on Oct. 6.
Jonathan Farrar was hired as senior investment associate in the Investment Office on Oct.14.
Roney Thomas was hired as post doctoral research associate in the Physics Department on Oct. 20.
Ruthann Coyote was hired as pre-professional career advisor in the Wesleyan Career Center on Oct. 27.

Transitions
Morain Miller was hired as library assistant V/serials in Olin Library on Oct. 6.
Robert Borman was hired as grounds manager in the Physical Plant—Facilities Department on Oct. 20.

Departures
Elizabeth Dagnall, assistant, Graduate Liberal Studies Program Office.
Kathleen Norris, assistant to the dean of admission and financial aid, Office of Admission.
Sean Martin, senior associate director, Office of Financial Aid.
Katherine Carlisle, manager of media relations and public relations in the Office of Communications.
Gretchen LaBonte, assistant director, student activities and leadership, in the Office of Student Affairs.

Wesleyan Encourages Faculty, Staff to Give During Middlesex United Way Campaign

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Roseann Sillasen, associate director and project manager of Physical Plant-Facilities, and Tracy Mehr-Muska, university Protestant chaplain, paint on the sidewalk at Farm Hill School during United Way’s Day of Caring, Oct. 3, 2012.

This fall, in the lead-up to Thanksgiving, Wesleyan employees are encouraged to participate in the university’s annual fundraising campaign to support the Middlesex United Way.

The university’s goal this year is $130,000 in donations and 50 percent participation. Department representatives have already distributed informational packets and pledge forms to faculty and staff. Forms must be returned by Nov. 20.

The Middlesex United Way supports agencies in 15 cities and towns.

The Middlesex United Way supports agencies in 15 cities and towns.

In an email to the campus community, President Michael Roth wrote, “When you give to Middlesex United Way, your dollars stay local. United Way’s local volunteers distribute your dollars to help neighbors in need—neighbors such as 60 Middletown families at risk of homelessness who remained in their homes thanks to one-time assistance through the Middlesex County Coalition on Housing and Homelessness Prevention Fund. Our dollars have helped the Women & Families Center’s Sexual Assault Crisis Services support more than 800 people, and have contributed to school readiness programs for young children in all 15 towns in Middlesex County.”

Backer, Culliton, Quinones Honored with Cardinal Achievement Awards

Scott Backer

Scott Backer

Rick Culliton

Rick Culliton

Scott Backer, associate dean of students, and Rick Culliton, assistant vice president/dean of students, received a Cardinal Achievement Award in October for completing the federally mandated campus crime (Clery) report for the past two years. This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts.

They completely revised and updated the report from previous years and incorporated additional edits to ensure the data in the report was accurate. This involved collaborating with various offices on campus. They took on this responsibility in the absence of the Public Safety Director who is typically responsible for coordinating the report.

Maritza “Cookie” Quinones

Maritza “Cookie” Quinones

In addition, Maritza “Cookie” Quinones, After School supervisor at the Green Street Arts Center, received a Cardinal Achievement Award in November for her “selfless giving and community-minded approach to assisting families during their experience at the GSAC and beyond,” explained Sara MacSorley, director of the Green Street Arts Center and PIMMS. Quinones makes thoughtful phone calls to parents regarding their children’s progress and behavior in the program. She makes a point to invite and to escort Middletown families to arts and cultural events at the Center for the Arts.

“Cookie tirelessly works to ‘make it happen’ for the community,” MacSorley said.

Award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors. Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year. For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Cardinal Achievement Award website.

Recipients will continue to be recognized in News@Wesleyan.

See past Cardinal Achievement Award recipients here.

#THISISWHY

21 Employees Honored at Recognition Luncheon

Twenty-one Wesleyan employees were honored by President Michael Roth at the annual Employee Recognition Luncheon on Oct. 16 in Beckham Hall. All the individuals have worked at Wesleyan for at least 20 years.
This year, the employees honored included: Judith Goodale, Linda Shettleworth, Susan Lastrina, Jeffrey Gilarde, Alice Scholar, Cynthia Rockwell, Robert Lancefield, Joel LaBella, Rosanna Pandolfo, Barbara Schukoske, Benjiman Jackson, Gail Winter, Pearlina Jackson, Joan Schenker, Robert Weber, Nicola David, Ernesto Marino, Michael Patterson, Tony Bostick, Sergei Bunaev and Angela Morgan.
The event was sponsored by the Office of Human Resources.

 

Balloon Animals, Marching Band, Music During 2nd Annual Middletown Day

Wesleyan welcomed about 150 local residents to campus for the second annual Middletown Day on Oct. 18. Families enjoyed a day of fun — including face painting, balloon art, and a bounce house for kids — food and football, as Wesleyan battled Amherst College in the Homecoming game. The Middletown High School marching band played at halftime, and Middletown residents were offered free admission to the game.

View photos of Middletown Day below, and in the Homecoming 2014 photo gallery. (Photos by John Van Vlack and Olivia Drake)

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Staff on the Move, September 2014

The Office of Human Resources reported the following new hires and departures for September 2014:

Newly hired
Janani Iyer was hired as a research assistant/lab coordinator in the Psychology Department on Sept. 2.
Ilona Bass was hired as a research assistant/lab coordinator in the Psychology Department on Sept. 2.
Paul Wilson Cauley was hired as a researcher in the Astronomy Department on Sept. 8.
Franklin Huynh was hired as a senior budget analyst in the Office of Financial Planning on Sept. 15.
Michael Schramm was hired as assistant director of the Wesleyan Fund on Sept. 15.
Luigi Solla was hired an associate director of admission for the Office of Admission on Sept. 22.

Transitions
Thomas Diascro was hired as director of alumni and parent relations for University Relations on Sept. 8.

Departures
Rani Arbo, fellow in the College of the Environment.
Christopher Andrews, senior budget analyst in the Office of Financial Planning.
Linnea Benton, library assistant in Olin Library.
Edward Chiburis, facility and events manager for Memorial Chapel/ ’92 Theater.

Wesleyan, City Officials Sign Memorandum of Understanding

On Oct. 15, Wesleyan and City of Middletown officials met at City Hall in downtown Middletown to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on dealing with sexual assault.

The document details the responsibilities and procedures of the university, the city, and state law enforcement in handling assault cases. This document officially codifies long-standing campus and community cooperation around the issue of crime, sharing of training resources, and enhanced communication designed to support survivors of sexual assault.

“This memorandum is an important step toward even greater cooperation between Wesleyan, the State’s Attorney’s office and the City of Middletown,” said President Michael Roth.”On an issue as serious as sexual assault, we need to be proactive in preventing crime, in supporting survivors and prosecuting perpetrators. A close working relationship with city law enforcement will be highly beneficial.”

On Oct. 15, Wesleyan and City of Middletown officials met at City Hall in downtown Middletown to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on dealing with sexual assault. The document details the responsibilities and procedures of the university, the city, and state law enforcement in handling assault cases. This document officially codifies long-standing campus and community cooperation around the issue of crime,  sharing of training resources, and enhanced communication designed to support survivors of sexual assault. Pictured from left, signing the document are Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney for Middlesex County Peter McShane; Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Wesleyan President Michael Roth. Absent but also instrumental in the development of the MOU is Middletown General Counsel Brig Smith.

Pictured from left, signing the Memorandum of Understanding, are Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney for Middlesex County Peter McShane; Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Wesleyan President Michael Roth. Absent but also instrumental in the development of the MOU is Middletown General Counsel Brig Smith.

Participants included: Front row, from left, Peter McShane; Mayor Dan Drew and President Michael Roth. Back row, from left, General Counsel and Secretary of the University David Winakor; Director of Public Safety Scott Rodhe; Therapist/Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator Alysha Warren; Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Title IX Officer Antonio Farias; Middletown Police Chief William McKenna and Middletown Police Deputy Chief Michael Timbro.

Participants included: Front row, from left, Peter McShane; Mayor Dan Drew and President Michael Roth. Back row, from left, General Counsel and Secretary of the University David Winakor; Director of Public Safety Scott Rohde; Therapist/Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator Alysha Warren; Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Title IX Officer Antonio Farias; Middletown Police Chief William McKenna and Middletown Police Deputy Chief Michael Timbro. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In addition, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., came to Wesleyan Oct. 6 to hear students’ concerns about sexual violence, survivor support and penalties for perpetrators. In his discussions with students he shared details of legislation he has proposed to provide better frameworks on campuses for handling sexual assault cases. Read more in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

Wes Welcomes Neighbors to Middletown Day Oct. 18

Middletown Day

Middletown Day coincides with Homecoming on Oct. 18.

For the second year in a row, Wesleyan will welcome its neighbors to campus for fun, food and football during Middletown Day, Oct. 18.

Starting at 11 a.m., the public can enjoy family entertainment (face painting, balloon art, a bounce house for little visitors, and a DJ), along with free popcorn and food for sale from Wesleyan athletic teams.

Plenty of Wes alumni also are expected at Andrus Field for the Homecoming football game versus Little Three rival Amherst College. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. and Middletown residents will be admitted to the game for free with ID.

The mighty Middletown High School Marching Band is scheduled to perform a half-time show, and several Middletown and area players are featured on the Cardinals’ roster this year.

Middletown Day festivities will take place on the College Row side of Corwin Stadium, with access from Wyllys Avenue. Free parking is available around campus.

For more information, see the event poster.