Public Safety Holds Rape Aggression Defense Training for Staff

Lt. Jay Mantie, in the RAD protective suit, attacks Officer Kathy Burdick.

Lt. Jay Mantie, in the RAD protective suit, attacks Sergeant Kathy Burdick.    (Photos by Cynthia E. Rockwell)

The meeting ran much later into the evening than usual, and you are walking back to your car alone. The parking lot is both dark and deserted. Suddenly a figure steps out of the shadows not five feet in front of you. What do you do?

Thanks to a special training course on campus, a dozen members of the Wesleyan community have a new set of skills to use in both assessing and responding to threatening situations like the one described above.

Public Safety Lt. Jay Mante and Officer Kathy Burdick.

Public Safety Lt. Jay Mantie and Sgt. Kathy Burdick are teaching the Rape Aggression Defense class.

Rape Aggression Defense—or RAD—training, was recently offered to the university’s female staff members, coordinated by Krystal-Gayle O’Neill, a residential life area coordinator. Lieutenant Jay Mantie was the lead trainer, assisted by Sergeant Kathy Burdick. Officer Melissa Widlack is also a RAD trainer and works with the team. The three earned RAD training credential by passing an intensive four-day training course on the core fundamentals of RAD training.

“There was a physical component and a mental component to the training,” Mantie said. “We were given a tough and comprehensive test at the end to ensure we knew the material well.”

It’s clear that he, Burdick, and Widlack passed the week-long intensive with flying colors. While Mantie explains RAD through its mission statement (“The goal of RAD is to develop and enhance the options of self defense, so they may become viable considerations to the woman who is attacked”), he also underscores a key result of learning the physical techniques.

“The training empowers women through self-defense,” said Lt. Mantie, “and leads the trainees to realize that they can defend themselves if attacked, and that they can be responsible for their own safety.” The result is women with confidence because they now have a tool that they can effectively use if needed. The course is not limited to sexual assault defense, and Mantie encourages the class to consider other instances in which it may be an important asset. “RAD training also provides defense against abduction, domestic violence, or any other form of aggression towards women,” he noted.

However, Mantie also gives the trainees a caveat. “No program is capable of adequately preparing or training an individual in every situation,” he cautioned, “so there is a mental component to the training as well.”

This part is risk management, with four key tenets: risk awareness, risk reduction, risk recognition, and risk avoidance. In other words, the trainees are taught how to identify potentially high-risk situations, and make informed decisions to avoid or mitigate this danger.

Mantie explains, “We teach trainees to identify a bad situation before it turns worse. For example, walking alone to your car at night and seeing a van parked in the spot next to yours in an otherwise empty parking lot. It is important not only to identify this as a risky situation, but also to know what you can do to lower the chances of a confrontation.”

Lt. Mantie sneaks up on Officer Burdick.

Lt. Mantie sneaks up on Sgt. Burdick.

Another important part of the risk management training is awareness. Mantie noted that one purpose of RAD training wasn’t to make its trainees paranoid, but rather, to help them be able to quickly identify the times and places one has to be more alert. “We provide them realistic, real-world scenarios that they could potentially face in the future,” he explained.

On the last day of training, each woman is able to practice the moves on a male attacker in a protective suit. “I can easily feel if the women use the moves correctly,” said Mantie. “The protective suit keeps me safe, but I can tell that if I weren’t wearing the gear I would be in a lot of pain.”

Dean for Equity and Inclusion Earns a Doctorate in Education

Renee Johnson-Thornton, dean for equity and inclusion.

Renee Johnson-Thornton, dean for equity and inclusion, is exploring ways to better understand the experiences students have that interfere with success and wellbeing. She has a deep commitment to social and environmental justice, conservation and environmental sustainability.

In this Q&A we speak with Renee Johnson-Thornton, dean for equity and inclusion.

Q: Renee, when did you come to Wesleyan and what was your first position? When did you join the Office of Equity and Inclusion?

A: I was hired in 1998 to be the associate director of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. The Office of Equity and Inclusion was established in 2013 following the hiring of Vice President Antonio Farias. Prior to his arrival, I served as dean for diversity and student engagement from 2009-2013, and the associate coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program from 2000-2013. I also have held the following positions at Wesleyan: assistant dean for student academic resources from 2005-2006, and assistant to the dean of the college from 2000-2005.

Q: How would you describe your role as the dean for equity and inclusion?

A: The dean for equity and inclusion promotes access, education and compliance through collaboration with students, faculty, staff and alumni that engage the campus community in developing all students’ capacity to achieve at the highest level.

Hurteau Earns Cardinal Achievement Award for Planning Library Project


Linda Hurteau

Linda Hurteau

Linda Hurteau, library assistant, was recently presented with a Cardinal Achievement Award for her work in anticipation of moving the Art Library collections into Olin Library. Hurteau created a plan to make space for and integrate transferred books from Olin Library into the Science Library.

She planned the project, supervised student employees to do a major shift of the Science Library’s monographic collection, and had the space allocated and ready when professional movers relocated the books. The planning work that Linda did resulted in significant savings to the library and the university. Hurteau also planned and initiated a project to create a separate oversize book area. The oversize shelves will help to preserve these materials by reducing the costs associated with rebinding books that are damaged by shelving them on edge or torqued when squeezed onto shelves of inadequate height or depth.

Lastly, Hurteau also undertook a project to integrate seven separate small collections into one when it became apparent that users were having difficulty locating individual items.

“Linda’s proactive approach to cost-savings and dedication to customer service deserve recognition. She is always looking for ways to improve the Science Library and the services we offer,” said Melissa Behney, science librarian.

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.

Green Team, Sustainability Office Help Promote Plastic Water Bottle-Free Campus


Wesleyan employees, from left, Jayana Mitchell, Anika Dane, Dawn Alger, Valerie Marinelli, Bill Nelligan, Jen Kleindienst, Anita Deeg-Carlin, Blanche Meslin and Roslyn Carrier-Brault, helped coordinate the installation of a new water filtering system in Woodhead Lounge. The water system eliminates the need to have bottled water provided at meetings held in the popular campus event space. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Staff on the Move, November, December 2014

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

Newly hired
David Shimomura was hired as a program coordinator in the Center for the Arts on Nov. 3.

Fernando Vargas-Lara was hired as a post doctoral research associate in the Physics Department on Nov. 3.

Jayana Mitchell was hired as an accounting specialist in the Chemistry Department on Nov. 10.

Angela Wong was hired as a project manager in Physical Plant-Facilities on Dec. 1.

Jessie Cohen was hired as an archaeological collections manager in the Office of Academic Affairs on Dec. 1

Alexander Chremos was hired as a post-doctoral research associate in the Physics Department on Dec. 1.

Armando Ortiz was hired as a public safety officer in the Office of Public Safety on Dec. 8.

Joan Chiari was hired as an administrative assistant in the Office of Student Affairs/Deans’ Office.

Meg O’Brien, associate director of financial planning
Juliana Shortell, archaeological collections manager
Vinnie Agosta, desktop support specialist
Caitlyn DeClement, office assistant
William Fisher, manager of online and video communications
Mardi Hanson-d’Alessandro, library assistant
Beverly Hunter-Daniel, director of Upward Bound Math-Science and Collaborative Programs
Steven Farthing, social network web developer

Fedolfi, Kini, Kaufman Receive Cardinal Achievement Awards


Charles Fedolfi '90

Charles Fedolfi ’90

The Office of Human Resources presented three Cardinal Achievement Awards to University Relations staff in December 2014.

Charles “Chuck” Fedolfi ’90, director of annual giving, was honored for his work on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 2, when the Wesleyan community joined together in an unprecedented show of support for students.  Led by Fedolfi, a team of colleagues and volunteers inspired alumni, parents, faculty and staff to make 2,059 gifts totaling over $500,000 – far exceeding the original goal of 1,000 gifts

Gridiron Club Honors Assistant Coach DiCenzo, Bussani ’14

Dan DiCenzo and Jake Bussani '14

Dan DiCenzo and Jake Bussani ’14

In November, the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston named Associate Head Football Coach Dan DiCenzo the Division III assistant coach of the year.

In addition, NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year Jake Bussani ’14 received a Joe Zabilski Award for being the top Division III defensive player in New England. The honor is annually awarded to New England’s best collegiate players in Divisions II and III. Bussani was one of four NESCAC players chosen for the New England Football Writers Division II/III all-star team. The last Cardinal to grace the NEFW all-star squad was Shea Dwyer ’10 during the 2010 season.

Bussani is currently enrolled in Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies program.

Founded in 1932, the Gridiron Club promotes the game of football at all levels and nurtures the ideals of citizenship, sportsmanship, leadership and athletic and academic achievement. The club carries on its tradition of honoring exemplary players, coaches and officials at all levels of sport.

(Photos courtesy of

Hadley, Stegmaier Honored with Cardinal Achievement Awards


The Office of Human Resources awarded two Cardinal Achievement Awards in November 2014.

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley

Library assistant Jennifer Hadley received a Cardinal Achievement Award for her volunteer work as coordinator of the Friends of Olin Library. Over time, Hadley has become the primary organizer for the activities of the Friends that include a semi-annual book sale, two or three annual issues of the library’s newsletter, Check it Out, and the sponsoring of an annual Constitution Day lecture by an invited scholar.

For the recent book sale this fall, Hadley coordinated the sorting of books, publicized the sale on campus and in the community, arranged the setup of Olin’s lobby and clean up after the event, and reconciled and deposited the money collected from the event in the Friends account and reported this to the Friends Board.

“Jennifer’s primary motivation for all of this, as a member of the library staff since 1991, is simply a love of the library itself and a willingness to step in and take responsibility for what she feels needs to be done. She has earned the appreciation of three library directors and the rest of the library staff for this work,” said Alec McLane, music librarian and director of Olin’s World Music Archives.

Heather Stegmaier

Heather Stegmaier

Heather Stegmaier, assistant director for stewardship in the Office of University Relations, was presented with a Cardinal Achievement Award for her efforts during Homecoming Weekend in organizing and managing a special luncheon to celebrate the life of Rabbi George Sobleman, Wesleyan’s first rabbi.

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


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


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)