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Communication Connections: A look into what it takes to run the Communications Department


Gull Life Editor

As the administrative assistant for the Communication Arts department, Jackie Wellfonder has her hands full keeping the department running.

“It’s funny because my boss teases and sometimes calls me his boss,” Wellfonder said. “Basically it can be a little crazy because my role is essentially coordinating the department as a whole.”

Wellfonder holds the duty of organizing the class schedule for all communications classes, along with assigning students to their advisors.

“We’re always looking ahead because, of course, in academics you have a four year plan and some courses are only offered every 2 years,” Wellfonder said. “So you have to be kind of strategic in planning. This past summer we were working on the schedule for the following spring.”

In the beginning, planning things out so far in advance was a skill Wellfonder found diffucult to master.

“That is something that I had to get used to was working so far and planning ahead,” Wellfonder said.

Along with coordinating things for students, Wellfonder also handles the adjunct professors, ensuring that they are on track for success.

“I handle their contracts and coordinate annual meetings with them just to give them some guidance,” Wellfonder said.

Wellfonder finds that she loves her job so much because of the faculty she works with.

“Overall the faculty is supportive, so I’m blessed in that regard,” Wellfonder said. “In the academic world sometimes you may run across people who really tend to think of things from a really academic textbook, knowledge perspective and they forget that people are human beings, and so they may treat you a little differently and I haven’t experienced that here with my faculty and that’s something that is positive.”

With book-keeping and answering to requests from the faculty also on her plate, not everything runs smoothly all the time. However, Wellfonder is working with faculty members to create a more efficient work environment.

“Everyone’s very helpful,” Wellfonder said. “If things get a little crazy, I’ve encouraged faculty like if they have requests for certain things such as motor pool or copy requests, I’ve tried to instill in them the sooner that you give me that information the more successful I’ll be at actually getting something done. Sometimes it’s hard because I understand their schedules are crazy too but I can do my job better if they cooperate with me on that.”

She finds that the CMAT department is a unique one, with a variety of personalities and people who come from different backgrounds, but her own skills help her to interact and communicate effectively with everyone.

“I pride myself on my organizational skills and my communication skills,” Wellfonder said. “I love being the coordinator person that gets things done.”

Wellfonder is a SU alumnus who has many ties not only to the school, but also to the community and local politics.

“In the past, some of my community work by some colleagues wasn’t always well received because I think they tended to look at things from a partisan perspective,” Wellfonder said. “But in my department, I’ve even had professors, because they are aware of what I do personally, they have actually commended me on instead of being resentful towards me.”

Currently, she is working on Muir Boda’s campaign for the upcoming city council elections in Salisbury.

“I’ve done several campaigns now but it’s interesting because I tend to gravitate away from party politics,” Wellfonder said. “I consider myself more firmly in the middle because that’s where sanity lives.”

The upcoming municipal election is non-partisan and Wellfonder believes that community issues will be the spotlight of the election rather than party politics.

“One of the things I like about this municipal election is it’s a smaller election and we have more of an opportunity to get more involved, and plus you can have a lot of influence on what happens at the municipal level,” Wellfonder said. “It’s a non-partisan election so you don’t see party politics coming into play as much as you do wanting people to be fiscally responsible and to have improvements in our community such as on crime.”

Her colleagues in the CMAT department have recognized her participation in local politics, and have used her as a resource for students.

“I had one of our professors, Dr. Egan, ask me to come speak at her political communications class,” Wellfonder said. “They have actually been hugely supportive and that’s been a big plus because I am involved very locally not just politically but also with community work like the First Saturday committee.”

A forum featuring the candidates in the local election was hosted by PACE and held at SU this past week. Wellfonder believes these forums are great opportunities to show the importance of community relations with SU.

“One of the things I love about the SU environment, not only with the cultural activities, but with organizations like PACE,” she said. “They present to the community the opportunity like the candidate forum to come hear what the candidates have to say. There is good collaboration with the community and university.”

With the support from her colleagues, Wellfonder continues to grow in both her professional and personal life.

“For faculty, professional development is incorporated into their role and is something that is required while they’re here and I think that’s important for administrators too,” Wellfonder said. “While we’re not professors or teaching, I think our personal and professional development is just as important so it’s good to have their encouragement.”

Growth in the relationship between the community and the university is another area where Wellfonder believes the disconnect between the two is decreasing.

“Some people can easily stereotype and point to a small group and say all college kids are partiers and they’re having a negative effect on the community,” Wellfonder said “But I think that’s a limited perspective.

There’s a balance and there’s a lot of good that happens at the university in conjunction with the community.”

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