New year, new leadership for Staff Assembly

Oct 14, 2021

There’s new leadership in town — specifically when it comes to the seven Newman staff members who make up the 2021-22 Staff Assembly Executive Committee.

The members are president Melissa Castle, vice president Amanda Wills, treasurer Rachel Muirhead, past-president Angela McCoy, secretary Amy Emerson and representatives Turner Middendorf and Drew Maus.

Staff Assembly serves as the liaison between Newman staff members and the president of Newman University, in order to encourage and promote the ideas and voices of all Newman staff members.

Meet the team

Melissa Castle, president of Staff Assembly

What is your role at Newman? I’m the employment specialist for human resources.

Where are you from? I was born at Wesley and then grew up in Derby (age 4 on).

Melissa Castle
Melissa Castle

What are your favorite things to do outside of work? I’m a voracious listener. I love audiobooks (fiction/nonfiction alike) and podcasts and my favorite way to lose time is by working on puzzles while listening to books and podcasts. I also enjoy cooking (while listening to books/podcasts) and taking my dogs for long walks (while lis… — you get the idea).

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received? “Work first, play later.” My dad used to always say this to me, probably because he grew up on a farm. It’s simple, but it’s honestly how I structure every part of my life. I’m not only responsible to myself, but to those around me. And my work is as much for them as it is for me. I think it also boils down to being prepared for life so that it doesn’t just happen to you. Structure really does provide freedom by creating an environment where I feel safe enough to play. So maybe the advice should be “work first so you can play later.”

Favorite aspect of working at Newman? Newman has provided me with so many opportunities to learn and grow. I’ve been able to earn a degree, change positions and departments to learn new things and gain more responsibilities, access the fitness center to catalyze my active lifestyle, develop friendships and collaborate with people all over the university, and cultivate my leadership skills through Staff Assembly, which also provided me the opportunity to participate in Inauguration Day. I couldn’t be who I am today without this institution. 

What subcommittee do you run on Staff Assembly? I’m the liaison for the service committee, which organizes and encourages participation in volunteer opportunities and service projects consistent with the university’s mission.

Anything else to add? I love working here and I love being an alum. And I love that so many other people here can say the same thing. Go Jets!


Amanda Wills, vice president of Staff Assembly

What is your role at Newman? I’m the learning management portfolio coordinator for the School of Education.

Where are you from? Oklahoma.

Amanda Wills
Amanda Wills

What are your favorite things to do outside of work? I love watching Oklahoma State football, I enjoy doing crafty projects and am learning calligraphy.  We try to make fun memories with the kids, so lately we have been shooting targets with compound bows and going on bike rides.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Never turn down the opportunity to learn something new.

Favorite aspect of working at Newman? I love that the opportunity to get involved in different events across campus exists.  Being engaged with different departments and knowing different people across campus helps build a better community spirit.

What subcommittee do you run on Staff Assembly? I’m the liaison for the communications committee, which serves to facilitate communication between departments.


Rachel Muirhead, treasurer of Staff Assembly

What is your role at Newman? I’m the administrative assistant for the Division of Arts & Humanities.

Where are you from? I am from Hays, Kansas. Roll Tigers!

Rachel Muirhead
Rachel Muirhead

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?  My favorite things to do outside work are watching new TV shows, (we are in the golden age of new TV content so if you need a recommendation, I got you!), trivia/karaoke nights and cuddling with my cat, Ernie.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Best piece of advice I ever received was from my dad (who was quoting Tom Petty), “Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

Favorite aspect of working at Newman? I truly believe students are getting a degree of difference at Newman University. Newman prepares students to work hard, collaborate as a team and most importantly how to be empathetic human beings.

What subcommittee do you run on Staff Assembly? I’m the liaison for the benefits and salary committee, which is in charge of evaluating current benefits offered and then offering suggestions, additions or changes.

Anything else to add? Go Jets!


Angela McCoy, past-president of Staff Assembly

What is your role at Newman? I’m the assistant director of MBA & Degree Completion Program.

Where are you from? Wichita.

Angela McCoy
Angela McCoy

What are your favorite things to do outside of work? I love to read! I spend most of my time away from work with my family and at my church. One of my greatest personal achievements was that I ran a marathon a few years ago. 

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received? I actually heard some great advice this week from Greg Smith’s presentation on self compassion — there is always more right going on in your life than wrong. Great perspective to start focusing on the positive!

Favorite aspect of working at Newman? I enjoy the sense of community among staff. It makes work enjoyable!

What subcommittee do you run on Staff Assembly? I am the liaison for the professional development committee, whose goal is to support the advancement of staff’s professional knowledge and skillsets.

Anything else to add? Newman has helped fulfill a need that I have to help others. Every day, we get the opportunity to help out each other and our students. Having my own children be college age, I find myself being a fierce advocate for our students.


Amy Emerson, secretary of Staff Assembly

What is your role at Newman? I’m the digital content specialist for Newman University.

Where are you from? I was born in Topeka, Kansas, but grew up in Wichita.

Amy Emerson holds a baby Chinese Alligator at her previous job at the Sedgwick County Zoo.
Amy Emerson holds a baby Chinese alligator.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work? I love to binge-read, run, write, spend quality time with my partner, hang out with my siblings, snuggle my cat, Stitches, roller blade and go on nature walks.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received? As a perfectionist who regularly works with deadlines and seemingly never-ending to-do lists, the best advice I’ve received is “Done is better than perfect.”

Favorite aspect of working at Newman? As a 2019 graduate of Newman, I got to experience firsthand the power that both education and a strong sense of community can have on one’s metamorphosis. I felt lifted and supported from day one of my undergraduate journey, and to be back on campus as a staff member, working to help future graduates transform society, has been an absolute joy. I only hope I can return the kindness that I received as a student!

What subcommittee do you run on Staff Assembly? I am the liaison for the welcoming committee, which is responsible for making new staff members feel welcome and included in Staff Assembly.


Turner Middendorf, representative of Staff Assembly

What is your role at Newman? I’m the director of Residence Life.

Where are you from? Topeka, Kansas.

Turner Middendorf
Turner Middendorf

What are your favorite things to do outside of work? I love spending time with my wife and two dogs!

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received? “Nobody is going to be successful for you, you have to do it for yourself.”

Favorite aspect of working at Newman? Working with my staff of 13 undergraduates.

What subcommittee do you run on Staff Assembly? I am the liaison for the social events and community building committee, and we handle the planning and execution of various Staff Assembly events, including our Halloween event coming up and Office Olympics in the summer.


Drew Maus, representative of Staff Assembly

What is your role at Newman? I’m the head baseball coach for Newman University Athletics.

Where are you from? Hamilton, Ohio (20 minutes north of Cincinnati).

Drew Maus
Drew Maus

What are your favorite things to do outside of work? Golfing and almost anything with my family (their sporting events, vacations, etc.).

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received? “Spend good money on shoes and a bed, because if you’re not in one, you’re in the other.”

Favorite aspect of working at Newman? Being a head coach has presented a plethora of learning opportunities and I like to learn.

Anything to add? Born and raised in a Catholic family, went to Catholic school since kindergarten (St. Peter in Chains and Badin High School in Hamilton).

What subcommittee do you run on Staff Assembly? I am the liaison for the fundraising committee, and we plan any fundraising initiatives, including our silent auction held annually in the spring. This committee’s work serves to replenish the Hearts & Hands fund, which is used to give monetary gifts to staff members experiencing hardships.

Sign up for a subcommittee

Any and all Newman staff can — and are encouraged to — participate in any of the seven subcommittees of Staff Assembly: benefits and salary, communications, professional development, service, social events and community building, fundraising, and welcoming.

“We hope that you will consider joining one (or more) of these committees and help us bring real value to you and your fellow staff members here,” Castle said. “We know you guys are amazing and have so many great ideas and we seriously cannot do this work without you.”

Join a subcommittee

The seven subcommittees of Staff Assembly are 1) benefits and salary, 2) communications, 3) professional development, 4) service, 5) social events and community building, 6) fundraising and 7) welcoming.

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