Tag Archive for staff

Thornton Leaves Lasting Legacy of Student of Color Recruitment

Since joining Wesleyan in 1985, Thornton has been instrumental in establishing and leading the University’s historic commitment to a diverse and academically elite student body, a defining feature of the Wesleyan experience. As he wraps up his final fall semester, Thornton took time to sit down in his office across Foss Hill and reflect on his accomplishments, Wesleyan’s future, and some of his fondest memories.

Since joining Wesleyan in 1985, Cliff Thornton, associate dean of admission at Wesleyan has been instrumental in establishing and leading the University’s historic commitment to a diverse and academically elite student body, a defining feature of the Wesleyan experience. Having served Wesleyan—now for more than 30 years, Thornton recently announced that he will retire at the end of the Spring 2019 semester. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

To listen to Cliff Thornton speak with prospective students and parents is to feel included, even if you’re eavesdropping.

Thornton is associate dean of admission at Wesleyan, covering a wide geographic and socioeconomic range: the South Central U.S. from Kentucky to Louisiana, Manhattan, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Caribbean. Having served these communities—and Wesleyan—now for more than 30 years, it makes sense that he would demonstrate an ease and fluency in his relations with so many different people from such different backgrounds. He’s had a lot of practice.

But something unique about Thornton, which by many accounts has been true from the beginning of his time at Wesleyan, is how his holistic approach impacts students. To hear him tell it:

“Alumni will often start out by saying to me, ‘You probably don’t remember me, but I graduated from Wesleyan in 1995….’ And I always remember them. That’s why I’ve continued to do this work. I’ve had the privilege to witness their growth and success,” Thornton said.

“Working in admission is good in two ways. First, it’s great to be in an educational environment and to believe in the mission. Second, if practiced correctly, it’s a lot like teaching. It might surprise some to hear this, but at the end of the day I don’t consider it my job to make sure a student comes to Wesleyan. My job is to help them make an informed decision. Particularly with underrepresented populations, this is a big challenge. As Dr. Cornel West has said of the African American community: What we often suffer from is a poverty of information. That’s a driving force for me—making sure students have the right information to make such a crucial decision.”

This approach bears itself out in Thornton’s work on a daily basis. In a recent information session with a large group of prospective students and parents, he was clear that the session should be a conversation. Hearing and helping the group talk through their questions and concerns was as important as presenting to them. Fifteen minutes in, students and parents alike were openly talking about their college search experiences (good and bad), and were responding to and assisting one another. Thornton and senior interviewer Shana Laski ’19 served more as facilitators than lecturers. By the session’s end, the prospective group left informed and enthused—well-educated on what Wesleyan had to offer, and clearer about what they wanted and had to offer in turn.

Thornton’s unique understanding and approach at least partially derives from his own educational background. Prior to joining Wesleyan in 1985, he was an adjunct professor and actively considering a PhD. While dating someone who was already enrolled in a doctorate program, he was exposed to the “torturous path” of attaining that terminal degree, and was bumped from his adjunct role by another professor with a PhD.

“I lost my taste for wanting to be a professor,” he said.

Wesleyan Musicians “Come Together” in All-Star Beatles Tribute Band for Third Annual Benefit Concert

An 18-piece all-star band, including five members of the Wesleyan community, will perform the Beatles’ Abbey Road album in its entirety during a benefit concert at Middlesex Community College (MCC) on Saturday, June 24, at 6 p.m. Pictured (l to r): Nancy Brown, Andy Chatfield, Sarah McNamara, Shona Kerr and Peter Standaart.

An 18-piece all-star band, including five members of the Wesleyan community, will perform the Beatles’ Abbey Road album in its entirety during a benefit concert at Middlesex Community College (MCC) on Saturday, June 24, at 6 p.m. The concert is the third annual event held in memory of former Wesleyan Center for the Arts (CFA) intern Stephanie Nelson, of Middletown, who passed away in early 2015 at the age of 25.

The first two benefit concerts, held in 2015 and 2016, raised more than $6,400 to establish and fund the Stephanie Nelson Scholarship at MCC, Nelson’s alma mater. Each May, the scholarship is awarded to an MCC student with a desire to work as an intern at Wesleyan University in the field of broadcast communications or multimedia.

Faculty, Staff Mingle, Play Games at Ice Cream Social

On June 12, the Office of Human Resources hosted the third annual Faculty and Staff Ice Cream Social on Andrus Field and the Huss Courtyard.

“This event provides us with the opportunity to enjoy a fun afternoon with colleagues and a way for all of us to kick off the summer months,” said Julia Hicks, chief human resources officer.

In addition to ice cream and sorbet, Wesleyan employees enjoyed popcorn and pretzel snacks, live entertainment with DJ Mario Torres (also a material handler in Physical Plant), raffle prizes, a tie dye t-shirt station, bingo, water balloon toss, volleyball, a block-stacking game, bean bag toss, dancing and more. Employees were encouraged to wear their tie dye t-shirts to work on June 16.

Photos of the event are below: (Event photos by Olivia Drake and aerial photo by John Wareham)

MacSorley Authors New Coloring Book Celebrating Women in Science

LaNell Williams '15, who studied physics at Wesleyan, is one of 22 women in science and technology careers featured in a new coloring book by Sara MacSorley.

LaNell Williams ’15, who studied physics at Wesleyan, is one of 22 women in science and technology careers featured in a new coloring book by Sara MacSorley.

Sara MacSorley, director of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center, is the author of Super Cool Scientists, a new coloring book celebrating women in science. It features stories and illustrations of 22 women in science and technology careers. Highlighting a wide range of diversity in scientific field, background, race, and more, it aims to show all young people that science can be for them.

The idea for Super Cool Scientists came to MacSorley a little over a year ago, and launched with a successful Kickstarter campaign.

“I had been looking for a side project that brought more direct science communication to my life,” she explained. “My background is in science and science outreach and I was missing that a bit. I was also learning to deal with my own anxiety issues so had started coloring to relieve stress. When I was doing some research on the things I’d want to color, I realized there was no book out there quite like this that celebrated women currently doing science in such an approachable way.”

Each scientist featured in the book has a full-page biography about the work they do, as well as a full-page illustration (by local artist Yvonne Page) to color. The coloring activity is designed to “let the stories of the scientists be told in a way that the reader/ artist can place themselves in the story,” explained MacSorley. And while the text was targeted to a middle school audience, since publication she has heard that younger children also get a lot out of the book.

“And, surprisingly to me, science college students have been really into the book too,” she added. “I hope that young people can read (and color!) the book and see that science is a field for everyone and that—regardless of what you look like or where you’re from—you can be a scientist. I also want people to understand that there are many types of science jobs. Not all of them require a white lab coat.”

Among the scientists featured is LaNell Williams ’15. Her bio describes how she grew up wanting to be a journalist, but transitioned to studying physics while at Wesleyan, and highlights her current graduate research projects. Williams is now at the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program. The accompanying illustration shows her in the laser lab on campus.

The response to the book so far has been very positive, said MacSorley, including healthy sales on Amazon and bulk orders with schools. The social media community (Facebook and Twitter) is growing and sharing their colored pages.

 

Patey Featured in A Peace of My Mind, a New Collection of Stories

Laura Patey (photo courtesy of appmm.com)

Laura Patey (photo by John Noltner for “A Peace of My Mind: American Stories”)

Laura Patey, associate dean for student academic resources, was featured in the newest book of the series, A Peace of My Mind: American Stories, by award-winning photographer and author, John Noltner. In his book, Noltner drove 40,000 miles across the country to ask people the simple question, “What does peace mean to you?” This resulted in the stories of “58 people from diverse backgrounds, who share stories of hope, redemption, and forgiveness, paired with compelling color portraits.”

Patey’s personal story highlights the peace she has finally found with embracing her own identity, with a focus on her experience adopting her sons out of foster care and how her experience of not fitting in when she was younger made her into an advocate for the marginalized in society. She also spoke of her challenges of coming out and being accepted. In the end, she has found peace now that she realizes “it’s not about having people tolerate or accept you, it’s about embracing your identity.”

An excerpt of Dean Patey’s story, along with her full audio interview was published on the website for the Peace of My Mind Project. Moreover, her story was highlighted in one of Noltner’s blog posts as a tool he was able to use to connect with a young student who was having her own trouble and felt isolated dealing with the reality of her own similar family situation.

Staff on the Move May 2016

The Office of Human Resources announces the following hires and departures for May 2016:

Newly hired
Zijia Guo was hired as prospect research analyst in University Relations on May 2
Philip Huntington was hired as electrician in Physical Plant on May 2
Noah Barth was hired as program manager in the Center for Prison Education on May 4
Amber Jones ’09 was hired as psychotherapist in the Counseling Center on May 9
Diane Widger was hired as Peoplesoft analyst programmer on May 18
Scott Shea was hired as assistant director of Wesleyan events and conferences on May 31

Departures
Kaiser Aslam, University Muslim Chaplain, Religious and Spiritual Life
Anya Backlund ’11, exhibitions coordinator for the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance
Charlotte Freeland, research assistant/lab coordinator, psychology
Aditi Kini ’12, assistant director, online communications for University Relations
Zachariah Pfeifer, coordinator of Greek Life
Meredith Nyser, swimming and diving intern

Faculty, Staff Celebrate End of the Semester at Ice Cream Social

On June 1, the Office of Human Resources hosted an Ice Cream Social for faculty, staff and employed students on Andrus Field and the Huss Courtyard.

On June 1, the Office of Human Resources hosted an Ice Cream Social for faculty, staff and employed students on Andrus Field and the Huss Courtyard. The gathering provided an opportunity for employees to mingle and celebrate the end of spring semester.

Rhonda York, administrative assistant in the Art and Art History Department, adds an array of toppings to her ice cream.

Rhonda York, administrative assistant in the Art and Art History Department, adds an array of toppings to her ice cream.

Chris Cruz, manager of fire safety and facilities, enjoys the social with her son, Colin.

Chris Cruz, manager of fire safety and facilities, enjoys the social with her son, Colin.

Mario Torres, material handler in Physical Plant, served as the gathering's DJ.

Mario Torres, material handler in Physical Plant, served as the gathering’s DJ.

After enjoying ice cream, several faculty and staff played volleyball, steel drums, participated in a water balloon and bean bag toss and created tie-dye T-shirts. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

After enjoying ice cream, several faculty and staff played volleyball, steel drums, participated in a water balloon and bean bag toss and created tie-dye T-shirts.

Staff on the Move April 2016

The Office of Human Resources reports the following new hires and departures for April 2016:

Newly hired
Deborah Katz was hired as a marketing director in University Communications on April 1.
Anthony DeMarco was hired as a boiler tender in Physical Plant on April 11.

Departures
Toria Bobbitt, research assistant in biology
Joseph Hopkins, boiler tender in Physical Plant
Pamela Tatge, director, Center of the Arts
Sharon Washburn, administrative assistant, Creative Writing

Staff on the Move, February 2016

The Office of Human Resources reported the following new hires, transitions and departures for the month of February 2016:

Newly hired
Laura Paul was hired as interim director, Center of the Arts on Feb. 1
Robert Perdo was hired as plumber in Physical Plant on Feb. 1
Marla Zubel was hired as acquisitions editor at Wesleyan University Press on Feb. 1
Kelly Miller was hired as dispatcher in Public Safety on Feb. 6

Transitions
Amy Bello was hired as administrative assistant in AFAM-CAAS/Mellon Mays on Feb. 1
Mary-Ann Matthews was hired as officer in Public Safety on Feb.15

Departures
Robin Bogda, medical billing specialist in the Davison Health Center
Ronnie Bowman, electrician in Physical Plant
Stacey Cuppett, dispatcher in Public Safety
Celestine Schwenneker, administrative assistant in University Relations

New Society Provides Creative Venue for Wesleyan Staff

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The Wesleyan Society for the Preservation of Domestic Technology held its first meeting Jan. 6 in Usdan University Center. At left, Joanne Rafferty, associate director of operations, crochets a scarf. She learned to crochet by watching a video tutorial online.

A group of Wesleyan staff members is forming a “close-knit” community over crocheting and crafts.

Bulaong Ramiz, assistant director of student activities and leadership development, learned how to knit in high school and was recently taught how to crochet by her friend and colleague Allie Grella. “I’m working on my first ever headband to keep my ears warm during these chilly months,” she said.

Bulaong Ramiz, assistant director of student activities and leadership development, learned how to knit in high school and was recently taught how to crochet by her friend and colleague Allie Grella. “I’m working on my first ever headband to keep my ears warm during these chilly months,” she said.

Dubbed the Wesleyan Society for the Preservation of Domestic Technology, the group held its first meeting Jan. 6 in Usdan University Center. Participants gathered for one hour for crafting and camaraderie.

“You provide your own lunch and supplies, and we provide an environment fostering whimsy, creativity and technical facility in the traditional craft arts,” said group creator Nate Lerner, director of university events and scheduling. “All campus crafters are welcome!”

Lerner brought a cross-stitch project to the gathering.

“This is a scene from the Miyazaki film My Neighbor Totoro,” he said, stitching an umbrella. “It’s one of my wife’s favorite movies (Rachel Lerner ’06), and I’m making it for her office. I don’t have any other portable craft skills, so I plan on continuing to bring cross stitch projects to the meetings.”

Joanne Rafferty, associate director of operations, learned how to crochet last week by watching a video on YouTube.

Cardona, Ramiz, Daniels Honored with Cardinal Achievement Awards

Elisa Cardona and Bulaong Ramiz from the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development each received a Cardinal Achievement Award for their extraordinary efforts in facilitating a series of community discussions and educational workshops (over several weekends) in the wake of the publication of a controversial op-ed about the Black Lives Matter movement in the Wesleyan Argus.

“These have been significant time commitments in addition to their already hectic job responsibilities” said Dean Mike Whaley. “I also want to highlight my observation that these discussions have been especially helpful and healing because they were designed in a way that participants were talking with each other, rather than at each other. The effectiveness of these important discussions is clearly a result of Elisa and Bulaong’s skilled facilitation as well as their deep commitment toward cultivating a campus environment that values diversity and inclusion as a cornerstone of students’ campus experience.”

Christine Daniels, executive assistant to the vice president for finance and administration, was awarded with a Cardinal Achievement Award for coordinating events for the Consortium on Financing Higher Education assembly meeting in October. Administrators from 35 colleges in the United States visited Wesleyan’s campus for this significant meeting.

Daniels worked with campus staff and vendors, and staff at the Inn at Middletown.

“Christine came in early and stayed late over a period of several days as she managed the entire event. The event went flawlessly and in many ways that was because of her extraordinary dedication and effort,” said John Meerts, vice president for finance and administration.

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.