Jason Timpson (left) and Dwayne Todd pose with OWU STAR award winner Ida Mostofi after sharing remarks about her dedication to OWU students and the Bishop community. Timpson calls Mostofi an 'unstoppable force of joy.' (Photo by Paul Vernon)

STAR & SPARK

Ohio Wesleyan Employees Ida Mostofi, Kyle Pellegrin Win Staff Council Awards

By Cole Hatcher

As he welcomed the crowd to the annual Ohio Wesleyan University Staff Recognition Luncheon, President Matt vandenBerg reminded the assembled employees that no matter their job titles, skill sets, or departments, they share one vital unifying factor.

"The glue that holds us all together, no matter what job we have, is the success of our students and ensuring that our students retain, and persist, and graduate," vandenBerg said at the Jan. 19 event. "That is the most important thing we do. … You are changing lives. … You matter."

He also helped to announce the 2023 SPARK and STAR awards, recognizing two staff members who exemplify excellence every day and who each "beams with Bishop Pride, is hard-working, supportive, positive, and always on their A-Game."

Kyle Pellegrin, laboratory manager for the OWU Department of Physics and Astronomy, received OWU's first-ever SPARK Award, and Ida Mostofi, administrative assistant to the Vice President for Student Engagement and Success and Dean of Students, earned the STAR (Special Thanks and Recognition) Award. Both winners were selected from nominations made by their OWU colleagues.

Ohio Wesleyan President Matt vandenBerg (left) presents staff member Kyle Pellegrin with Staff Council's SPARK Award in recognition of his contributions to the OWU campus. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

An Inspiring SPARK

In announcing the SPARK Award, vandenBerg shared that Pellegrin is an electronics wiz who, among many other things, is helping a student to build a submersible robot for a research project.

"What a great choice for this inaugural SPARK Award," said vandenBerg, who then invited Brad Trees, professor of Physics and Astronomy, to share more about Pellegrin.

"There are so many positive ways in which Kyle impacts the department, I cannot possibly convey them all," Trees said, noting that Pellegrin's work in the year since he joined the OWU staff has included ensuring that students in the Advanced Laboratory course have the equipment they need to perform advanced experiments as well as rejuvenating the department's machine shop, which includes a 3D printer.

"He is also a wiz at tinkering with and repairing equipment … has a great rapport with students, and his booming laughter, which can sometimes be heard the length of the hallway, adds to an atmosphere of welcome and positivity," Trees said. "You might say Kyle is a spark that ignites the curiosity to learn among the students in the department. We are very glad he is with us."

A Shining STAR

In announcing Mostofi's STAR Award, vandenBerg noted that she "exemplifies the tenets of the award, which include making a positive impact on faculty, staff, students, and trustees and exemplifying the pride and spirit of Ohio Wesleyan both on- and off-campus.

vandenBerg also shared that one of Mostofi's nominators stated, "Her ability to navigate every situation presented to her with grace and effectiveness sets her apart as a valuable asset to this institution and a beloved friend and colleague to all."

He then invited Jason Timpson, director of Multicultural Student Affairs, and Dwayne Todd, vice president of Student Engagement and Success, to share their thoughts about Mostofi, a member of the OWU community since 2006.

Timpson, a past STAR Award recipient, called Mostofi "the Oprah of campus joy."

"Ida's acts of love are so remarkable that she's practically the human embodiment of confetti – spreading comfort, encouragement, and ensuring that no birthday goes unnoticed," Timpson said.

"Ida," he continued, "you're like the Oprah of campus joy – 'You get a celebration, and you get a celebration, everybody gets a celebration!' …

"As for the OWU spirit," Timpson concluded, "Ida doesn't just embody it; she's the living, breathing, high-fiving epitome of it."

In his remarks, Todd added: "I'm ecstatic to see you, Ida, recognized for the STAR Award. Those of you who know Ida probably said, 'Of course!' when she was named because Ida's kindness, generosity, and warm spirit just extend across campus. You can feel it everywhere."

A Rewarding Career

Mostofi, who earned two standing ovations from her peers, also spoke at the event, discussing the joy of supporting students and of collaborating with her OWU colleagues.

"I consider myself blessed to be part of this institution," Mostofi said. "Over the last 18 years, I have witnessed students become adults and receive a rigorous education that prepares them for a successful career. I have seen their lives transformed through mentorship and connection with coaches, faculty, and staff. Equally important, I have witnessed students get inspired to serve and discover their passions in service to make this world a better place. This is rewarding! …

"At times," she concluded, "people ask me, what is the best thing about working at OWU? Without hesitation, I respond: The students, yes! OWU's mission? Absolutely! But equally meaningful – its people, the OWU community.

"Through your hard work and dedication," Mostofi told the luncheon attendees, "you make this campus shine; you keep the mission going; with your everyday efforts, vision, tenacity, unity, and love, you contribute to OWU's ongoing success. You are OWU!"

Celebrating Milestones

During the annual event, planned by the OWU Staff Council, several Ohio Wesleyan employees were recognized for reaching service milestones over the past year. Those honored were:

Five Years of Service

  • Holly Birk – Public Services Librarian
  • Katie Boyd – Coordinator of the Quantitative Skills Center and Peer Tutoring, Academic Coach
  • Morgan Cotter – Assistant Football Coach
  • Brian Emerick – Director of Residential Life
  • Jill Hayes – OWU Connection Coordinator
  • Ted Houlihan – Assistant Football Coach
  • Stephen Hughes – HVAC Technician
  • Doug Koyle – Associate Dean of Student Success
  • Misty McDonald – Public Safety Officer
  • Emily Paetz – Director for Student Integrity and Community Standards
  • Andrea Ryan – Administrative Assistant
  • Michele Serena – Associate Registrar
  • Bethany Wiseman – Public Safety Officer

10 Years of Service

  • Jason Cox – Associate Director of Information Services
  • Sarah Graves – Coordinator of the Writing Center and Faculty Member
  • Wendi Kay – Academic Assistant
  • Kevin Paskvan – Director of Financial Aid
  • Katie Webster – Director of Alumni Relations

15 Years of Service

  • Sean Duffy – Public Safety Officer
  • Amy Kaple – Associate Director of Financial Aid
  • Tracey Little –Office Manager and Secretary of the Athletics Department
  • Emily Lugg – Director of the Sagan Academic Resource Center
  • Adam Mayer – Technical Support Coordinator
  • Dee Peterson – Director of Libraries
  • Rebecca Sherman – Director of Advancement Operations
  • David Soliday – Instructional Technologist

20 Years of Service

  • Liz Foos – Associate Director of Human Resources
  • Don Stevens – Director of OWU Observatories

30 Years of Service

  • Cathy Hursey – Associate Director of Public Safety

Photos From the Event

View photos from the event.