|Laurie Zolty, assistant to the coordinator of University Lectures, poses with lecture advertisements inside the Horgan House.|
Q: When did you join the staff at Wesleyan and why?
A: I joined the staff in the fall of 2000 looking for a career change. A very good friend was on staff here and spoke so highly about working at Wesleyan. I was searching for almost a year, looking for a position where each day would be different working a diverse schedule, meeting new people, taking on new tasks and challenges. This newly created position with University Lectures seemed like the perfect fit.
Q: What were you doing before you came to Wesleyan?
A: My last job wasn’t very exciting. I was the office manager for a local orthodontist. But the one before that was great. I handled all human resources, payroll and office management for The Tournament Players Club at River Highlands, which meant my employer was the PGA Tour. That was cool.
Q: How do you and Jean Shaw, the University Lectures coordinator, work together?
A: Jean Shaw and I have worked wonderfully well as a two-person team. We handle the logistics for a number of endowed lectures, from their inceptions to their completion. We also assist faculty when they are applying for and receiving funding from the Edward W. Snowdon Fund. These Snowdon supported lectures are more numerous and we do everything from advising to organizing the lecture events and setting up small dinners to working with the graphic designer on advertising and posters. We also assist or manage individual lecture budgets and attend the events we help sponsor.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Id say the diversity of skills used and the exposure and opportunity of working with and getting to know such a large number of faculty and staff.
Q: I understand working with lectures isn’t the only thing you do at Wesleyan.
A: The major part of my job is working with Lectures, but one-quarter of my time is connected with Reunion and Commencement. This part of my job is to coordinate and streamline the payment process for all R and C invoices and help to track all expenses. In addition, I have taken on assisting the Marshal of the Faculty for commencement. These come at the perfect time, when logistical work on lectures quiets down in the spring and early summer, so it rounds out my work schedule in a nice way.
Q: Do you attend lectures your department put on?
A: Yes, we attend every lecture, activity and performance, whether it be an endowed lecture, such as the Hugo L. Black or Raymond E. Baldwin events where we are totally involved, or be it a lecture, event or residency organized by an academic department, including all events funded through the Snowdon grant process.
Q: What would be an example?
A: A great example of this is the current series of 19 events spanning three semesters that the Center for Film Studies has organized in conjunction with different academic departments. We also work closely with faculty, like Anne Greene, to help support her major Writing Program lectures each year, the Annie Sonnenblick Lecture and the Joan Jakobson evening.
Q: What have been some of your favorite presenters or lectures?
A: Its hard to say. Ive had the opportunity to meet some amazing people over the past four years. Our first Snowdon Fellow was Steven J. Gould who was remarkable. I actually had the chance to accompany him on a private tour of Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill. It was amazing. But Id have to say my favorite lecture each year is the Sturm lecture. Kathryn Johnston, of the Astronomy Department, brings in terrific speakers and for me, the topics are fascinating as each lecture explores an area of astronomy that is far beyond our world but so relevant to our lives on earth.
Q: Who generally presents the lectures? Professors? Visitors? Are there certain topics they address?
A: The lectures that we support and are involved with are always given by visitors. They are often professors from other universities, but can be dignitaries, judges, authors, dancers, college presidents, movie directors, journalists or clergymen. For Snowdon funding, a faculty member writes a proposal with a specific speaker, or speakers, and topic in mind. Snowdon supported events are required to have participation from multiple departments, so the topics can range as wide as your imagination will take it.
Q: What would I find you doing on a weekend?
A: You can find me most Sunday mornings sitting in my three-season room with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Over the past few years, my husband, Allen and I have been busy with a series of redecorating projects at home and this seems to be a never-ending process. One room triggers another. I enjoy the decorating process, searching for just the right fabric or accessory. My degree was in textiles and marketing so I love the hunt for a bargain and have a feel for what works and what doesnt.
Q: That sounds like a fun, but inexhaustible project. Do you have other hobbies?
A: I like to cook and I sew and I used to play a bit of tennis. I really enjoy going to the movies and eating late dinners afterwards, so Allen and I will do one or both on most weekends. Our closest friends include people I grew up with and even though they live in New Jersey or New York, we often meet up for an afternoon or dinner. Every few months we try and get into New York. I just love the theater and the energy of the city.
Q: Where did you meet your husband? Do you have any kids, and if so, what do they do for a living?
A: I met Allen when we were both at UConn. Weve been married for 32 years and have two sons. Allen has spent his career in labor and industrial relations with Pratt and Whitney, which afforded me the opportunity to stay at home with our kids while they were growing up. Stuart, our oldest, has been married for three years, works as a financial advisor and lives just outside the city. Our daughter-in-law, Meredith, is the general manager of the Jean Cocteau Repertory Company. Andrew, our younger son, lives and works in New York. He is an interactive Web designer, loves to travel and is focusing his time and energies promoting Seven Ender, a rock band that he fronts.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|