Springfield College is almost like a car; it needs certain parts in order for it to work. The engine is the professors and faculty who run the everyday academic and recreational operations to keep the school moving. The battery that gives the engine power to drive forward is the administrators; without them, the engine can’t start in the first place.
There is one thing a car cannot run without: oil. The oil in a car keeps the engine and other parts running smoothly and efficiently. Without it, the entire car would seize up and break down, unable to move forward.
The oil is the administrative coordinators and associates. They have a hand in pretty much everything on campus people interact with on an academic day. Those writing studios that are here? They’re set up by an administrative associate. Communicating with all the adjunct professors? Done by administrative associates and coordinators. Materials for the classrooms, food for meetings, even lost items found in the buildings? All handled by administrative associates and coordinators. The list goes on and on for what these wonderful people do for Springfield College.
These positions on our campus have a special circumstance. When a person needs something in most buildings on campus they’ll run into a certain name: Donna.
There are five Donnas on campus, all of them are in those two administrative positions. When you need something in one of those buildings, people will tell you to ‘Talk to Donna.’
These Donnas are the oil in the machine for many parts of Springfield College. From Locklin and Hickory, to Weiser and the Learning Commons, these women have an impact on the everyday lives of students.
The five Donnas consist of two administrative coordinators, Donna Slezak and Donna Wisniowski, as well as three administrative associates: Donna Delaney, Donna Graziano, and Donna Laviolette.
The unusualness of the circumstance doesn’t seem to affect any of them negatively, as all of them are quite close to one another.
“Whether we’re walking on the sidewalk or passing each other somewhere we always say hi to each other and have a conversation,” says Wisniowski.
Wisniowski is the second-longest tenured member of the five. She and Slezak have been serving at the college for a combined 52 years. They have been through four different school presidents and have worked in various departments around campus.
“It’s weird because we are friends but we just happen to have the same name. We don’t even think about it. Donna Delaney in Locklin Hall replaced one of my best friends in the world, Mary Scibelli, who passed away, so I was worried about who would take her position and I’m also constantly calling them. She’s great and it worked out,” explains Wisniowski.
Delaney is the newest member of the “Donna” crew. She transferred here after a long career working for two separate law firms. She works in the school of health sciences as an administrative associate, alongside Donna Wisniowski, who is administrative coordinator.
The last Donna is Donna Graziano, who works in the Academic Success Center inside of the Learning Commons. She helps students who come into the Learning Commons find the right people to help with whatever they need.
The most experienced ‘Donna’, Donna Slezak, is retiring in January 2020. Her impact on the college over 27 years of experience has been tremendous. She has worked as a coordinator with two deans in the school of Arts and Sciences, former dean Dr. Mary Healey, and current dean Dr. Anne Herzog.
Herzog explains the experience that what Donna Slezak brings to the table makes her life ten times easier.
“Since we deal with most of the gen-eds here on campus we have a lot of different adjunct professors that need to be hired. With Donna’s experience, she can go, ‘Oh, he’s worked here before, he’s great,’ and, ‘She’s never worked here before.’ [She just has a way of] knowing how to deal with different situations in a way that makes every day of my life easier,” Herzog said.
The five Donnas sometimes play a maternal role in their departments, for students and faculty alike.
“My office is always open, so if anybody ever needs anything, not necessarily a mom, but, you know what I mean. I’m not a counselor, but I have four children so if they’re having a bad day or if they need something I would love to help them and whenever they do come in here I do,” says Laviolette, who works as an Administrative Associate in the Literature, Writing, and Journalism Department out of Weiser Hall.
Wisniowski says sometimes their jobs are to make sure the students are calm before they meet with an administrator in order to make the process go smoothly.
“When I used to work as an associate I used to have to deal more with the students and because of the chain of command by the time they got to me they were really worked up so I did kind of have to play the mom role where I had to calm them down so that I can make the Dean’s job easier. You kind of have to make sure you have a couch or something in your office to make sure that they have somewhere to cool off before,” explained Wisniowski.
This position is not common knowledge for students, and many may not know much about these wonderful people in these positions on campus. But they have a profound impact on everything a student has done and will do here at Springfield College.
As she gets two papers signed while being interviewed, Laviolette explains, “I think that our position doesn’t necessarily get overlooked, but maybe not fully appreciated for all the work that we do. We don’t just come in and start typing out letters all day. We play a lot of important roles and every day is a different day. They always come to me if they need something…I’m always the person they go to.”
These women do the jobs in the background that make a difference for everyone. So, make sure to appreciate the work these Donnas do. They do everything for the students and faculty in our own Springfield College family.
Photo Courtesy Marty Dobrow