By Valerie Figlmiller
During her work in the International and Graduate Programs office for nearly 13 years, Dorothy Schlesselman has not only been a key player in improving and expanding the programs, she also has been able to fulfill her passion of learning from and helping people from around the world.
When Schlesselman began working at the Law School in 2000, the LL.M. and exchange programs were still very new. Meredith McQuaid (’91), then director of the International and Graduate Programs, needed a creative and thoughtful assistant to grow the programs, and she found just what she needed in Schlesselman. McQuaid was particularly pleased by Schlesselman's immediate dedication, attention to detail, productive work ethic, and genuine concern for the programs.
"Dorothy is patient, she enjoys what she does, and she is extremely loyal and kind. She's an artist, really," says McQuaid. "I find myself often missing her. She's just a great person to have on your team."
Now program coordinator, Schlesselman is the first point of contact for the LL.M. and exchange students at the Law School. She plans the Introduction to American Law course in August, as well as many events throughout the year. She also organizes the admissions process for LL.M. students, arranges visa documents for the international students and scholars, and manages the 10 international exchange programs offered at the Law School.
Before coming to the Law School, Schlesselman had several experiences that sparked a deep interest in different cultures and homelands. Her work as a faculty assistant at the University's School of Public Health allowed her to meet and interact with international faculty and graduate students. She also visited her brother in Tokyo, which was an eye-opening experience and introduced her to the Japanese enthusiasm for working as a team.
"Those opportunities really changed me, and they made me ask questions instead of just assuming that other people around the world do everything in the same way as Americans," Schlesselman says.
When McQuaid left the Law School in 2007, Schlesselman had a string of different supervisors until Khary Hornsby (’05) joined International and Graduate Programs as director in 2009. Schlesselman was the crucial figure in maintaining the foundation and carrying on the program that she and McQuaid had set in place.
"Dorothy was essential in keeping the program stable. She held true to the principles that the program was established on," Hornsby says. "She's been the consistent figure in this program, and she's always had the philosophy of student-focused programs. She always asks 'How will it impact the students?'"
Schlesselman says the most rewarding part of her job has always been getting to know students from all over the world and observing the program's profound impact on them by the time they leave each May. She says she tries to use her Midwestern values to support the students, and they really appreciate those efforts.
"What I've learned from Dorothy is that it's OK to put heart into what we do here," Hornsby says. "Heart and passion can sometimes get lost in programming and trying to meet your goals, but Dorothy shows me that it's always possible to do it with heart."
Schlesselman continues working to improve her skills. She is a member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and she recently completed the organization's one-year academy program to network and learn from others in the field about working with international students.
"We come to work every day to support the students," Schlesselman says. "That's the reason I'm here, and I want to continue to create the best possible experience for them."