Most people only spend four to five years at West Chester University. For Mary Ellen — better known as Mell — Josephs, her campus experience has been almost 40 years.

Josephs came to WCU 39 years ago as assistant director of students services and later moved on to become director of Sykes Union. She retired on June 19 as executive director of Student Services, a nonprofit organization she helped found in 1986. In that job, she is responsible for the university book store, working with campus organizations — including the Golden Rams Marching Band and the university theater — on budgets and expenses, working with the student radio station, WCUR, in its dealings with the FCC and working with the students at the Quad, the student newspaper, on billing advertisers.

While she works with the students on the business aspects of student government and all student organizations, it isn’t all business with Josephs.

“When someone asks if I have children, I tell them, ‘I have 16,000 children’,” referring to the whole WCU student population.

One of her biggest accomplishments was expanding the presence of the university brand. In May 2014, the Ram Shop opened at the corner of High and Chestnut streets in the borough.

“The university brand has gotten very recognizable and there’s a demand,” she said. “This celebrates how successful the university brand and the name has become.” And, she said, the community is very excited about it. The shop has become a congregation point for the community and alumni, a way to touch base with the university.

Josephs is also active in the community. She has served on numerous boards of Chester County organizations and now serves on the board and committees for Neighborhood Health Services in West Chester, WCU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and the Delaware Theatre Company in Wilmington. She is also an active member of the Rotary Club of West Chester. Josephs has received several accolades for her efforts including the March of Dimes Women of Achievement for Excellence in the Field of Public Services award in 2007.

“It took me a while to say, ‘I’m not really sure’ when people would ask me what I was going to do when I retired,” she said. “When you’re so active and a part of your community and your work, you go through all the normal feelings, a bit of anxiety.

But she said she is working on “reshifting” her thinking. “Now, I’m going to follow my curiosities.”

What she will miss the most? “The people. My job allowed me to interact across the campus, not just in one department. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with so many dedicated people.”

But she will tell you that without a doubt, her greatest reward over the past 39 years has been the students.

“I’m so fortunate, the students really make it for you,” she said.

“When you see all the students you work with out in the workforce and so successful, like Adam,” she said, referring to Adam Farence , a reporter at the Daily Local News, who she worked with on the Quad. “You couldn’t ask for more of a reward than that.”


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