Barbara-Jan Wilson Memories

In celebration of Barbara-Jan and her Wesleyan career, please take a moment to share your thoughts and memories.  Please email them to


"I am the Co-Class Agent for the Class of 1974, and have been so since 1977. I came to know Barbara-Jan first through admissions (as a WAAV volunteer) and later through alumni events and fundraising. Barbara-Jan is such a (fully deserving) Wesleyan institution that most probably forget or never knew the mood and culture of Wesleyan before she arrived. Her under-appreciated accomplishment, taken as given now, was in changing that culture. Barbara-Jan loved and loves Wesleyan. She wasn’t afraid to show it, say it or insist that Wesleyan live up to its potential. Wesleyan then was diffident and a bit cynical--great faculty and smart students but somewhat defensive. Barbara-Jan, over time, changed the attitude and culture of the administration, the student body and, to some extent, the faculty. That was quite an accomplishment, that now has such momentum that, one hopes, it cannot be stopped. Like any strong organizational culture, it is replicating itself. My wife and I will not get to Middletown in time for the reception, so raise a glass for me for Barbara Jan." -Jonathan '74


"So well deserved! Congratulations! I can't think of any one person who has meant more to the overall institution over the last three decades than you." -Ben '98


"Barbara-Jan interviewed me for a job in the Dean's Office in '83 and she and her husband Tim became colleagues and wonderful friends, and eventually introduced me to my wife Jenny '89, who worked for Barbara Jan in the Career Planning Office. I'm one of the many for whom Wesleyan IS Barbara Jan. Her retirement is like Jeter leaving the Yankees: Don't bother trying to replace her, just be glad you were around to enjoy it."  -Bill, former colleague and friend


"My first letter from Wesleyan (a place that felt so far away for me in China back in 1998) was from Barbara-Jan. I still vividly remember our first meeting when I came to campus, and her support   throughout my life as an international student at Wesleyan. She has been making Wes a better place each day." -Zheqing '02


"I don't think she ever missed a Wes football game! Great gal! We will all miss her!" -Dave '51, P'83, '86 and Ann


"Thinking about you makes me so happy because it evokes such wonderful memories of my father. He thought you were so wonderful, so warm, and smart. I wrote in the email when I RSVP’ed that you always made my dad feel like his love of Wesleyan (and you) was wholeheartedly and genuinely returned….My mother and I are both wishing you joy and peace in whatever lies ahead." -Kathryn '86 P'19

"I count Barbara-Jan as an honorary member of the Class of ’86 since she started at Wesleyan when we did. I was an intern in the Career Planning Office and I was lucky to work for her and experience her warmth, sense of humor and ever-present optimism. Once I graduated and came back to campus for reunions and events,  I knew I could count on a warm welcome from Barbara-Jan. She has been the face of Wesleyan for 36 years and has had an incredible impact on students and alums. I will miss seeing you on campus, but I have a feeling you will be back…maybe for our reunions. Congratulations and enjoy what’s next…" -Risa ‘86

"I’m a Wes grad, Class of ’79—Barbara-Jan was one of the first women to make a difference in my professional life after Wesleyan. She encouraged a few of us to start WIPS—Women in Publishing—which was a small but dedicated group of recent Wes women grads who were just starting out in the business. Given the old-boys’ network in publishing, especially back then, it was exhilarating to start something that felt like it was just for us. The women involved were cheerleaders for each other back when we all made about two cents and worked like demons. Still do! She has also been hugely encouraging over the years to me, and also to my daughter, Sophie—despite Sophie’s eventual decision not to attend 'her mother’s school.' I will miss her steady presence, her spark of energy, her get-it-done attitude and much more. Thank you, Barbara-Jan, for it all." -Pam ’79

"During my four years at Wesleyan, I was extremely lucky to interact with Barbara-Jan in different ways and for different reasons. The details of these are unimportant but what is important and will remain with me was the compassion, thoughtfulness, and sense of humor that Barbara-Jan brought to every interaction. Wesleyan has been so lucky to have her for the past 36 years. I send warmest congrats and also sincere wishes for joy and fulfillment in her next steps! -Jen '86

"I find it hard to believe that the young, extraordinarily effective person that we worked with many years ago from the Wesleyan Office of Admission is retiring. In my mind's eye, you will always be the sprite I remember. That sprite convinced our 'I'll never to to a school where you went' daughter that Wesleyan was the place for indeed it was. What a salesperson you were that night in our dining room. So, with heartfelt thanks for you help with our daughter and with as many good wishes as I can transfer over the internet, you have our best wishes for a happy, relaxing, stimulating retirement." -Barry '66

"She's such an institution and remarkable woman!" -Meredith '96

"I think she has been a terrific 'force for good' on the Wesleyan campus and in the Wesleyan community. She is a special lady with a skill for organizing and a personality that begs you to follow her wherever she leads. In this age of changing jobs every year or two, i am glad she decided to stay at Wes and continue to make it better year after year. She will be hard to replace." -Bill '64

"My best to her...chief Wesleyan supporter and the person who single-handedly restarted Wesleyan fundraising activities." -Fred '63

"I'm Class of '86 and Barbara-Jan was amazingly helpful at a tough time in my life. Wesleyan's loss but...what a career and how much support she gave!" -Steve '86