Director of Employee Benefits Says Good Benefits Attract, Keep Staff at Wesleyan

Pat Melley, director of Employee Benefits, is preparing for Open Enrollment for 2007 in November. She hopes to meet several Wesleyan employees during this time.
Posted 09/15/06
Being Wesleyan’s director of Employee Benefits is a huge benefit on its own.


Pat Melley, who was hired into this role in August, says she enjoys this opportunity to problem solve, mentor and collaborate.


“I think of Wesleyan employees as my customers, and I strive to serve them the best that I can,” Melley says from the Office of Human Resources. “I love the challenge of answering questions from faculty and staff, listening to their suggestions, strategizing and resolving benefits issues.”


Melley oversees all aspects of the benefits function. She helps new faculty and staff members enroll in their benefits, which may include medical and dental insurance, life insurance, retirement savings plan, flexible spending accounts and disability insurance, among others. Wesleyan employees also receive educational assistance, retiree benefits, and relocation and housing benefits.


“The benefits at Wesleyan really are fabulous, and that helps attract the best faculty and staff, and keeps them here,” she says.


Judy Buden, assistant director of Employee Benefits, is helping Melley with her new position and the academic environment. They make up the Employee Benefits Office.

Melley, who holds a bachelor’s of arts in English from Fairfield University, brought a strong benefits background to Wesleyan, having worked both in employer and vendor settings. She is a Chartered Life Underwriter, and most recently worked for a company in Bloomfield, Conn., where she directed the Human Resources department including all employee benefits programs. There, she helped the start-up company grow from nine employees to 300 people.


“I really enjoyed the entrepreneurial aspect of that job, but I get that sense from Wesleyan also,” she says. “It’s a nice change from the corporate world. Here, at Wesleyan, we seem to have free reign in creativity and when a question arises, we can act upon it.”


In November, the Benefits Office will begin Open Enrollment for 2007, a period in which employees can opt for changes in their insurance and retirement plans. She wants to take advantage of this time period to meet several employees face to face.


“It is very helpful for me to gain an understanding of our employee population so that I can do a better job providing benefits,” Melley says.


When she’s not meeting with Wesleyan employees, she’s meeting with insurance company representatives to negotiate prices, benefits plan designs and customer service metrics. She researches peer institutions to make sure Wesleyan’s benefits are comparable.


This year, Melley hopes to improve customer service in the office, maintaining an open-door policy and placing a heavy emphasis on promoting wellness and fitness. When employees are healthy, the price of health care can more readily be controlled, she explains. Melley also hopes to update and design a user-friendly Benefits Web site, which will help answer common questions Wesleyan employees may have.


She’s hoping to stress inter-office communication and hold additional workshops to make sure all employees know what benefits they are entitled to have.


The Yonkers, N.Y. native lives in Windsor with her husband, Jay, and has two daughters Micaela, 20, and Claire, 16. In her spare time she enjoys early morning runs, going to the gym, cooking and downhill skiing.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor