|Q: So, you’re
one of those rarities.
A: Yes. I am originally from Middletown. We were referred to by the
Wesleyan boys as “townies” way back when. I was born right here at the
Middlesex Hospital. My maiden name is Lockhart and I am the oldest child of
three children -- the only girl and two brothers. One brother has passed on,
but I have a baby brother who is 16 years younger than me. He obviously was
a big surprise.
Q: When were you hired at Wesleyan and in what department?
A: Wesleyan hired me on October 14, 1963 to be a catalog assistant
and the secretary to the head of the Catalog Department in Olin Library. I
worked there for 15 years.
Q: How many departments have you worked for over the years?
A: I worked at the Graduate Liberal Studies Program as a secretary to
the assistant director and I left there after 3 1/2 years. I then went to
the Office of Admission for about two years as the secretary to one of the
deans. And this year I will celebrate 21 years as the administrative
assistant in the African American Studies Program, Center for African
American Studies. I still can’t believe it myself that I have been at
Wesleyan going on 42 years.
Q: What about Wesleyan has kept you here?
A: I enjoyed the work I did at the library and the people who I
worked with were wonderful. I think most of them were in their early 30s and
40s and older, and me being 18 years of age I was like a little sister or
daughter to some of them.
Q: When you came to Wesleyan, wasn’t in an all-male university?
A: Working at Wesleyan when you are 18 years old with that many male
students around was so much fun. I definitely had a date every Saturday
night if I wanted one. I wasn’t “boy crazy”, but I wasn’t Sister Theresa
either so I can remember going to football games, dances and fraternity
parties. Curfew was midnight for the girls to be on campus. The students
dressed for dinner in the navy blue jackets. I really did meet some real
nice guys back then, however, I ultimately married a high school classmate
and we’ve been happily married for 39 years.
Q: What have been the major changes at Wesleyan that you have noticed
in your time here?
A: I would have to say the addition of the women to Wesleyan in the
late 1960s. I am from the ”old school” in many ways and it was difficult to
get used to seeing the women around campus. I guess now it is old hat but
back then was another story.
Q: What are your thoughts on your co-workers?
A: My co-workers are the best. The faculty that have come through our
doors over the many years I have been here have been fantastic. The concern
for the program and the members of its staff is a major priority. We
definitely all get along very well. The only big change now is that I am
turning out to be the “oldest in age” and not the youngest any longer. The
new hires seem to be younger and younger all of the time. I am treated with
a great deal of respect by the members of the faculty, staff and the
students. I guess you might say my reputation has preceded me know matter
where I have been. The faculty and staff at the center are my extended
Q: Do you interact much with the students?
A: The students have changed in some ways, but I do enjoy the
interaction I have with them. I supervise about four to six students each
semester as office assistants. They seem to be a little needier and maybe a
little bolder. But they seem to know what they want and they go for it. In
general, I would have to say that most of my dealings with students are
positive. I always like the beginning of the school year when the frosh
enter. They look so young and I feel like I have to “mother” them.
Q: What’s a day like for you there in the Center for African American
A: My day can change from minute to minute. It also changes with the
time of the year. Right now I’m dealing with the graduation reception,
students storage at our center and making sure that all of our senior majors
have passed their spring courses successfully to complete the major. I also
am on the phone a lot, and we hold a class in our lounge each semester so
students are always in and out. I meet with people, take computer courses
when necessary, take care of the office budget, faculty accounts and just be
Q: How has the African American Studies Program grown and evolved
over your time there?
A: I think the program has seen some highs and lows during the years
I have been here. I came to the department in 1984 on the first day of
school. Can you imagine! And this was a first for me. I had never worked in
an academic department before. In 1984 the AFAM major had just been
approved. It was a big time and our first graduating class of AFAM Majors
was in 1985. We had five of them. It was a very exciting time. Now we have
anywhere from 15 to 20 each year. Then, the
chair and the director were one and the same. A few years later a director
was hired specifically to direct the center and the chair was a tenured
faculty member. We now have two tenured faculty members serving, one as
chair and one as the director. We also have five tenured faculty members as
opposed to having one or two tenured faculty members in the earlier years.
So I guess you can say we’ve grown in that respect. And that’s a good thing
Q: Being here so long, do many people come up to you and ask, “So,
what was it like back then?”
A: Yes, they do ask, but most of the time I think they are more taken
by the fact that I have been here so long. You don’t hear of anyone staying
in one place of employment for a long time. I have one professor that when
she introduces me to someone and tells them the length of time I have been
here, she proceeds to tell them that, “Georgie knows where all of the bodies
are buried.” And I guess she is right, I can go back and remember some
things like they were yesterday, but then again, trying to remember what
went on 42 years ago is not always easy. Some of it is starting to escape
Q: Can you elaborate on your community services?
A: I am very active in an organization called the Middletown Emblem
Club No. 452. It is affiliated with the Middletown Elks Lodge in Middletown.
I am a charter member and have been active since 1970 when the organization
was instituted in Middletown. It is definitely a service club more than
social. We foster and perpetuate patriotism, we are involved in many aspects
of community service with the elderly and the youth. I also have been very
involved in coordinating a program called “Hawkwing,” which provides
children and the elderly on the Lakota Indian Reservation in South Dakota
with warm clothing, personal items and books. Presently I am in the process
of coordinating with the Head Librarian at the York Women’s Prison in
Niantic with providing the women with books and personal items. I was chosen
Citizen of the Year by the Middletown Elks Lodge in 2001 and was also chosen
by the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Prevention Council as the Father
Michael O’Hara Volunteer of the Year Award in 2002.
Q: What's your involvement with drug
rehabilitation services in the area?
A: I've put in many volunteer hours
with our local Drug Rehabilitation Centers. I have received Emblem state and
national awards for my volunteerism in Drug Awareness. I am also the
Treasurer for the Substance Abuse Prevention Council in Middletown where I
have been an active member for the past 10 years.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: In my not so spare time, I am an avid gardener and I love to
flower arrange. I call it my therapy. Just let me play in that dirt and I
let the rest of the world go by. I have also been an active member and Past
President of the Portland River Valley Garden Club for the past 15 years. I
also like to cook and bake and believe it or not I like to clean my house
Q: Tell me about your family.
A: My husband Ray and I are of Italian descent, you know the Mellili
Sicilian’s that infiltrated Middletown over the years. We both attended and
graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1963. We do not have any
children, but we have lots of nieces, nephews and now great nieces and
nephews and they have grown up with us. They are scattered mostly in Florida
Q: Do you have any plans to retire? If so, when?
A: Right now, I am looking at June 2006. I think 42 years is a long
time to work and I would like to take some time for me. I would also like to
be home with my mom for a while. She will turn 80 years old in June and has
had some health problems this year. I want to be able to be home with her
while the two of us can still have some fun shopping, go to the spa, take in
a movie, or just stay at home and spend the day doing nothing at all. I
think I am ready. It has been a glorious ride, but now it is time to get