For 19 years, Joyce Topshe took on the role of managing Wesleyan’s construction services, environmental services, rental properties, and Physical Plant-Facilities.
Now in her 20th year of working at Wesleyan, the associate vice president for facilities is powering through “the most challenging year of my career,” she said. “As we approach the end of the fall semester during a raging pandemic, I am feeling like we almost won the World Series. My entire team has worked exhaustively to make our campus safe during the pandemic, and I am so grateful to every member of my team for staying the course despite the challenges and concerns that the pandemic brought.”
Topshe, a member of Wesleyan’s Pandemic Planning Committee and the Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT), helped oversee the COVID-19 testing operation on campus and was heavily involved with the University’s reopening plans last fall.
Despite the pandemic, Topshe “continues to love coming to work every day because I enjoy the people that I work with,” she said. “Many of us have been working together for the entire time and we have this incredible sense of ownership and loyalty to our Wesleyan community, to each other, and even more so to the students that we serve. I enjoy working as a team and I am grateful for my talented colleagues who have contributed to the wonderful accomplishments that our team has achieved. I can’t believe that it has been 20 years since I joined Wesleyan. It is true that time flies when you are having fun.”
Like Topshe, Makaela Kingsley ’98, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, also is celebrating her 20th year working at Wesleyan. She recalls being serenaded by the Wesleyan Spirits, an engagement party hosted by her manager, ski trips, the last-minute Barack Obama campus visit in 2008, and being entrusted to grow the newly established Patricelli Center.
“When I came to Wesleyan for college in 1994, I never expected that I’d be celebrating my 20th anniversary working here, but I guess this place has a special way of roping people in,” she said. “Even alumni who didn’t return to work here feel the same gravitational pull that I feel. It’s not so much a deep connection to the University as an institution, though. It’s a connection to Wesleyan people. That’s what has kept me here all these years: my colleagues, the alumni, and the students.”
Gina Driscoll, associate director of alumni and parents relations for the Office of Advancement, is celebrating her 35th year in 2020, and is honored to have served under four Wesleyan presidents.
“The University provided opportunities I will treasure forever. My work has been meaningful, but what truly has brought me joy are the enduring relationships with alumni, students, faculty, and colleagues,” she said. “My involvement with the Freeman Asian Scholars Program and working with alumni scholars and students has been life-changing.”
2020 also marks the anniversary of 29 other Wesleyan staff celebrating their 20th, 25th, 30th, or 35th anniversaries working at the University. These employees were honored during a Dec. 2 All-Staff Convocation, in lieu of the traditional staff recognition luncheon held annually in Beckham Hall. The names of those celebrating work anniversaries were displayed in a rotating slide (and posted at the end of this article).
During the convocation, Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 shared his gratitude for the employees’ contributions over the years. “Wesleyan is very fortunate to have a staff that that is here for, in many cases, decades, and many employees stay for the people and find their work meaningful because of the people they collaborate with,” Roth said.
“The pandemic has reminded me, once again, what Wesleyan stands for,” Kingsley said. “My colleagues and students have shown endless patience, compassion, and solidarity for me and for each other. I’ve always been proud to say that I work here, but after this fall semester, I feel that more strongly than ever.”
20 years of service:
Makaela Kingsley, Patricelli Center
Pearlie Mack, Health Services
Rosemary Murphy, Health Services
Ann Goodwin, Advancement
Maureen Isleib, Student Affairs
Casey Brown, Physical Education
Thomas Harrington, Public Safety
Rhonda York, Art and Art History
Suzanne Sadler, Center for the Arts
Kate TenEyck, Center for the Arts
Joyce Topshe, Physical Plant-Facilities
David Phillips, Student Affairs
Donna Steinback, Physical Plant
Gladys Rodriguez, Registrar’s Office
Anna van der Burg, Registrar’s Office
25 years of service:
Jeanine Hanlon, Health Services
Christian Lanser, Admissions
Elizabeth McCormick, Advancement
Elizabeth Watrous, Advancement
Karen Siciliano, Student Affairs
Katherine Wolfe, Olin Library
Bill Nelligan, Physical Plant
Joe Fountain, Physical Education
John Oliveira, Public Safety
30 years of service:
Scott Antonio, Olin Library
Michael Berzenski, Physical Plant
Suzanna Tamminen, Wesleyan University Press
35 years of service:
Joan Ecklund, Health Services
Jerry Maguda, Information Technology
Gina Driscoll, Advancement
Sheila von Schoeler, Admissions
Robert Chiapetta, Physical Education
Tom Macri, Physical Plant