Most college students throw their caps in the air and proclaim their newfound freedom on graduation day. Pam shared in this thrill with her graduating class, but she also came to make the University her home after graduation.
Pam began her career at Lewis as a student worker in the Office of Admission while earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting. After graduation, she was hired as a clerk in the Office of Financial Aid Services. During this time she also took advantage of the University’s tuition program and completed her MBA.
During her fourteen years at Lewis, Pam has progressed through various positions within the Office of Financial Aid Services, including Counselor, Coordinator, Assistant Director, and Associate Director. She recently was promoted to Bursar in the Business Office, where she oversee the management of student billing, accounts receivables and collections.
She believes that being a Lewis alumna makes her more valuable to the University. She can relate to the students and offer firsthand knowledge to them and their families of what their college career and experiences will be like.
Pam loves what she calls the “seasonality of her job…the different and defined cycles of the academic year and the natural progression of students”. She feels it is very rewarding to watch a student go from the infancy stage of their college career to the point when they achieve their goals and dreams.
Pam believes that the greatest benefit of working at Lewis is the feeling
of community and being part of something bigger than yourself or your department.
She also appreciates the fact that Lewis employees put students first. “We
explain why we do what we do and walk the students through the process,” she
says. “We recognize every moment as an opportunity to teach.”
“I know you -- you belong at Lewis.” These were the words Cathy
heard in 1992 from a former chairperson who learned of an open faculty position
in Lewis University’s Communications department.
Cathy credits this person with starting her on the road to a very fulfilling career. Cathy, who has been teaching at the college level since 1973, is a Professor in the Department of Communications. A native of Alabama, she came to Illinois in the mid 1980’s to complete her doctorate at Northwestern University. Some of the classes Cathy has taught include Small Group Communications, Managing Conflict, Organizational Communication and Persuasion Theories and Campaigns.
In addition to her teaching responsibilities Cathy also has assumed many key leadership roles in the University’s improvement processes. In 1994 she was the Plan Coordinator for the University’s first Strategic Plan. She also managed the administration of a $1.7 million Title III Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Many of Lewis’ current enhancements in technology, faculty development and co-curricular learning are a product of the grant. Most recently she has become the Coordinator for the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), the University’s reaccreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission. She believes that these administrative responsibilities have made her a much better educator. She appreciates that Lewis has recognized her abilities and given her the opportunity to use them in service to the University. “In each position I have experienced new learning myself. It has kept me alive, invigorated and fresh in the classroom. I have been able to use what I’ve learned to connect with the students and show them how certain skills can be used in the real world.”
Cathy is thankful that her former chairperson recognized the similarities
between her and the University. “My whole value system and the way I
teach are a good fit with Lewis. I believe the Lasallian Mission with all my
heart”, she says. “It is a nice feeling to go to sleep at night
and feel satisfied that I have made a difference.”
Dr. Erin Zimmer has been teaching full-time at Lewis University since the fall of 2004. Erin had previously taught as an adjunct instructor at Concordia University and was a technical specialist at a biotechnology company. An Assistant Professor of Biology, her specialty is genetics. She also teaches molecular and cellular biology, and recently developed a course called the Biology of Cancer.
Erin was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the student population here at Lewis. This diversity and the different perspectives that students bring to the learning environment have been exciting. She has learned so much from them. In addition to the academic rewards, Erin has also discovered another reason why there is such longevity among University employees.
When Erin started at Lewis she had no idea what to expect, but she quickly learned what others already knew so well. “Lewis has much to offer, but one of the things I found most appealing was the welcoming environment. There is a great deal of effort on the part of faculty and staff to make you feel connected,” she says. “A lot of organizations can’t say that. It’s different here. People are very devoted and involved in all facets of the community. There is so much value placed on interaction and the development of relationships…from social events, to community gatherings to discussion groups. The opportunities are endless.”
Erin also was very impressed by the fact that the person she replaced, after 27 years at the University, still comes back frequently to visit. “It made me realize what a great decision I had made.”
When we hear the word university, academia and the pursuit of higher learning typically come to mind. What happens outside the classroom however, is equally important to the development of the complete student. Joe Falese, Lewis University’s Vice President for Student Services, and the entire Student Services Division, is responsible for the University’s “outside the classroom environment”. He and his staff provide quality services and support systems that allow and encourage students to make the most of their college experience. “We want them to thrive academically, personally, spiritually and socially,” Joe says.
A Lewis alumnus, Joe’s student experience is a good example of how Lewis
provides more than just a degree. He was a member of Lewis’ baseball
team, participated in many co-curricular activities, and also worked as a Resident
Assistant and Dorm Director. While continuing in the master’s program
at Lewis, Joe accepted a position as the Dorm Director and Director of Student
Activities at the then-College of St. Francis. He returned to Lewis the following
year to become the University’s full-time Director of Student Life and
Housing. In 1985, he was named Dean of Students, and in 1989 was promoted to
his current position as Vice-President for Student Services.
Joe believes Lewis has much to offer prospective employees. In his position he says that “he has been fortunate to be able to work with terrific students and watch them grow and develop”. All have provided him with gratifying and energizing work experiences. He also has been fortunate to work with excellent colleagues who are committed to a student-centered educational environment.
On a larger scale, the University’s emphasis on Mission and the spirit
of association make it a great place to work. “Our Mission is not based
on lip service,” he says. “It is not something in a frame that
you hang on a wall. It is lived. We are a growing institution of high quality
that is well on its way to becoming one of the best mid-sized Catholic universities
in the Midwest.”
Joyce Hayward, Associate Professor in the Reading and Literacy Program in the College of Education, is no stranger to the field. She began teaching in the public school system in 1973. Her long and successful career spanned 3 decades, and included positions as Teacher, Reading Specialist, Assistant Principal and Curriculum Coordinator of Special Education. So what brought her to Lewis?
Joyce has had some affiliation with the University since 1976, the year her husband jointed the staff. In 1983 she, herself, came to Lewis as a student. That year she began graduate work in the Reading and Literacy program. After the completion of her degree, she continued in the public school system, but also taught as an adjunct instructor at the University, teaching in the Bridge program and Study Skills, and later in the College’s graduate program. In the fall of 2000, while working on her doctorate she accepted a part-time position as the Interim Program Chair for Reading and Literacy. In the fall of the following year she was offered, and accepted the full-time position. Since then she has seen many changes, including the School of Education’s recognition as a College. Additionally, undergraduate and graduate programs have evolved to meet the changing needs of students.
Joyce believes one of the greatest benefits Lewis offers is its flexibility. “There
are high expectations for each faculty member” she says. “You are
expected to provide outstanding and current instruction for your students.
You are encouraged to interact with them and offer guidance…there is
a very strong commitment to personalized service. This is reflected everyday
in the examples set by our own President. At the same time however, Lewis respects
there are many ways people can use their gifts. It may be that you are involved
in different committees on campus, or you may be helping in the community,
or you can be working on research. There are a variety of ways you can demonstrate
and exercise your personal and professional growth. Lewis shows its appreciation
for the individual by allowing him or her, the opportunity to develop in this
way. The flexibility is truly there.”
For the past 13 years Joan has been a familiar face in the College of Education. Currently the Director of Advising and Certification Officer, she is the individual charged with helping students make important decisions about their college careers. Joan loves getting to know the students on a one-to-one basis and providing them with the guidance they need to make appropriate choices.
At Lewis since 1993, Joan started as a temporary employee in the College of Business. After a short time in University Advancement, she found her home in the College of Education. Joan’s position within the College slowly evolved, and as the College grew, so did her responsibilities.
“Everyone has been wonderful to work with,” she says. “The people I have met, the collegial atmosphere and the diversity of backgrounds create an environment which is professionally stimulating.” Joan also speaks highly of Lewis’ Tuition Exchange program, which allows employees and their immediate family members to receive free or discounted tuition. Both of her daughters took advantage of this wonderful benefit, and in 2001, Joan completed a master’s degree in school counseling & guidance.
Lewis has provided Joan with opportunities for growth in other areas as well. She took part in a Lasallian Mission Formation program. “It affirmed for me that what I do for the University is what John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers were striving for. It made the Mission come alive.” Additionally, she has been on several University task force committees, has been an ICE (Introduction to College Experience) Mentor, and has had the opportunity to travel to Ukraine as a participant of Partners in Education. Being an employee of Lewis means more to Joan than just having a job to do; it also means being part of a larger, more rewarding and meaningful experience.
Upon first glance you would assume Melissa’s office belongs to someone in Marketing or Promotions. She has Lewis University memorabilia everywhere, from the pictures on the wall, to the books and stuffed animals on the shelves, to the trinkets on her desk. It is the office however, of someone who is simply very proud to work here. As Melissa states, “I think I am the biggest LU fan…and it is important to demonstrate school spirit all year long! “
Melissa began her career at the university in 1997, but her history dates back to the time she spent here as an undergraduate student. After graduating in 1988 she worked in her family business for several years and then became a Substitute Teacher. She loved working in the educational field, but wanted something with more stability. Lewis gave her the opportunity she had been looking for. She characterizes it as “the best move I ever made”. Melissa started as a secretary in the Accelerated Program. She has been Data Processing Assistant, Coordinator of the Helpdesk and the Media Coordinator under a Title III grant. She is currently the Assistant Director of Teaching, Learning, and Technology Services. She is responsible for Blackboard and for helping faculty incorporate technology into the classroom. “I love working with people and with technology. This position gives me the opportunity to do both. The best part of the job is the “aha” moments; the point when faculty realize how important technology is and they learn to apply it in the classroom”, she says.
Melissa, a graduate of the first cohort offered at Lewis in the Masters in Organizational Leadership program, was a beneficiary of the tuition assistance benefit. According to Melissa, it is a great benefit and one that fits in with her commitment to lifelong learning. Although she is appreciative of this type of benefit, she still believes that one of the most wonderful things about the university is the people. “Not many folks are fortunate enough to say they can get up in the morning and truly enjoy going to work. I can. No matter what is happening in my life, business or personal, I know that I am not alone.”
Quite often, college can create an overwhelming feeling of apprehension for students entering the grounds for the first time. Employees such as Barbara Lewis help to calm the fears of these students and set them on the track to success. Barbara, a 21 year veteran of Lewis University, is the Secretary to the Chair in the Justice, Law and Public Safety Studies program.
Barbara came to the University in 1986. A friend of Barbara’s saw a position was open in Project Upward Bound, a program funded by the Department of Education, which prepped high school students for college. This person knew Barbara would be a great asset to the program because of her commitment to helping others. Barbara got the job and stayed with the program until it was cancelled in 1995. That year, she accepted the secretarial position in Justice, Law and Public Safety Studies.
In Barbara’s current position she is responsible for maintaining contact, support, and a cooperative environment between the program, and the students, parents, faculty and outside agencies. Barbara takes pride in the job she does. She believes it is important to know her job as well as the jobs of others, both inside and outside of the department. Knowing what to do, or where to go to get answers makes her more valuable to her co-workers and to the students and staff she supports.
According to Barbara, one of the greatest benefits to working at the University is the people. “Lewis has a variety of really good people. It makes my job a lot easier when I have people I can talk to and rely on.” She has taken advantage of the University’s tuition assistance benefit, and is currently enrolled in the Criminal Justice program. Barbara also loves the beautiful campus and the great work environment.
Barbara enjoys her job and working with the students. She states that “the
greatest challenge is being able to coordinate and serve everybody that comes
for assistance”. This also provides her with the greatest rewards.
“It’s a place where people want to come to work; you work a majority of your life and you have to enjoy what you’re doing, and I feel like that’s what I’m doing here.” After graduating from Lewis with a Bachelor’s degree in math and psychology, Erica had always hoped to come back and teach here one day. A former preschool teacher, Erica has taught students of all ages but prefers teaching at the college level.
As an Assistant Professor of Elementary Education, she enjoys giving her students ideas, methods, and strategies that they can incorporate into their own classrooms. Erica states, “I feel like at the college level, I have more of a chance to have an impact on what education looks like at the elementary school level because I’m teaching future teachers.”
Erica taught at Joliet Junior College for many years, but had her sight set on teaching at Lewis. She was drawn to the family-like culture and small class sizes because it provided her the opportunity to get to know her students at a personal level. She mentions, “I feel like here, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality; it’s more about the quality of the education and the quality of the courses and the teaching.”
She was pleasantly surprised that people at Lewis University treat each other with a Lasallian approach and are always willing to offer assistance. She feels a strong connection to the Lewis community and enjoys working as a team with her department. Erica explains, “You just feel like the people here are part of your extended family.”
Erica looks forward to the annual Faculty Recognition dinner, which showcases the research, publications, and other accomplishments that faculty members have achieved throughout the year. She feels that it is “so remarkable that Lewis has such a respect for its faculty.”
One of her favorite parts about working at Lewis is seeing her old professors around campus. She loves seeing that her former professors still work at Lewis and she enjoys interacting with them as her colleagues now. “That means that Lewis is a good place to be and people want to stay here...that speaks volumes to me,” Erica says.
“They really make you feel part of the community from the day you arrive….” These are the words of Michelle Ronchetti, expressing her appreciation for the friendly, welcoming, and collaborative environment that Lewis provides for all employees.
A graduate of Lewis University, Michelle has had quite a journey back to this institution. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1989 and has worked in a number of healthcare settings afterwards. She worked as a maternal child nurse for 12 years at Silver Cross Hospital and then as a risk manager at a community health center, but Michelle wanted more patient contact. When a job opportunity for Director of Health Services became available at Lewis, Michelle was excited to apply.
As the Director of Health Services, Michelle feels she has the “best of both worlds” because she is able to have an administrative role and assist student patients. As a nurse, she enjoys the patient contact with students and having the opportunity to teach them about various illnesses and medications. Her primary responsibility is to ensure that students are both mentally and physically well, which she believes is very rewarding.
Michelle is grateful for the work-life balance and flexibility that Lewis has to offer. Even though Michelle attended Lewis for her education, she feels more connected to the university as an employee. Her favorite part about working at Lewis is the spirit of collaboration and how there is always someone available on campus to help you. She also appreciates how decision-making at Lewis is based on input from all walks of university life including faculty, staff, and students.
Unlike other places Michelle has worked, she is proud to see that Lewis puts their mission into action. Michelle believes, “Lewis is a place where the mission is alive, and it’s visible around you every day.”
“They’re going to have to kick me out of here one of these days.” A former fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Chuck Crowder has been working at Lewis for several years and is currently an Associate Professor of Physics. Chuck truly enjoys the time he spends at Lewis both inside and outside of the classroom.
Throughout his life, Chuck has had many accomplishments. One of his most notable was starting a laser company within AMOCO and running the business until it was sold. However, Chuck explains that his previous job came with a lot of stress and he felt he was aging dramatically. Even though he built a successful company, he was unsatisfied from a personal perspective. At Lewis, Chuck finds teaching extremely gratifying and he enjoys interrelating with college students. Chuck says he feels invigorated by Lewis because “the ability to interface with these very enthusiastic students that we have really keeps you young; maybe not young physically, but mentally young."
Since both of his parents were teachers, Chuck also aspired to be a teacher. He explains, “Teaching is something I had wanted to do for a longtime, so it’s the fulfillment of a lifetime ambition.” Chuck is delighted to work at an institution where the faculty is motivated and he is impressed with the level of commitment and talent. The personal interaction between professors and students is a feature of Lewis University that Chuck is very passionate about: “It’s not just an education, but a personally guided education.” Chuck strives to build a strong interface with his students, and he hopes to be remembered by them 20 years from now.
Chuck is ecstatic to be working in the new Science Center, which he believes is a fantastic facility. He often conducts experiments with his students and colleagues.
Most importantly, Chuck admires the Christian Brother’s mission and their willingness to educate people who are less advantaged than many. Chuck says, “This is a place that really touches your heart, and you can have a great long-term career here and a very rewarding one.”
As the Director of Counseling Services, Michele provides clinical and administrative leadership, one-on-one mental health counseling, psycho-educational group counseling, and consultation to faculty and staff members regarding students of concern.
After graduating from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, she worked in the community mental health industry for a number of years. Michele has worked with a variety of age groups ranging from 5 - 80 years old. However, she has always been attracted to work with the demographic of college students.
As a counselor in a university setting, Michele enjoys working side by side with students to accomplish goals and getting the unique opportunity to live in their world. Her favorite part about working at Lewis is watching the students grow throughout their college careers, which she feels is very satisfying. “University life is unique for me coming from community mental health...you get to see students grow from different perspectives, not just emotionally, but spiritually, intellectually and socially,” Michele says.
Michele is grateful for the nurturing and welcoming environment that Lewis has to offer. She likes being able to supervise staff and counsel students.
While there were many benefits that attracted her to Lewis, she believes the mission strongly embodies her personal beliefs and professional ethics. Michele feels she has the freedom and time for professional development that is valued at Lewis and expresses these thoughts when stating, “By far in a way, the most supportive environment for professional as well as personal growth that I’ve ever worked in...in my 23 years as a working professional.”
Lewis University is an equal opportunity employer. Decisions regarding hiring, promotion, termination, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, training, discipline, and all other decisions regarding the terms and conditions of employment will be made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, age, marital status, national origin, veteran status, genetic information, disability, or any other basis prohibited by applicable federal, state or local laws which is unrelated to the ability to perform the job or which can be reasonably accommodated.