Counseling soldiers’ families during trying times

WIU academic adviser returns from military deployment

by Jared Dye, University Relations student writer

picture of Ronald Pettigrew

WIU academic adviser and military chaplain Ronald Pettigrew

Ronald Pettigrew has been involved in the military all his life, has been to more than 35 countries through his services, but he was recently deployed for the first time as a Western Illinois University employee. He is now back at work in Macomb after being assigned to the headquarters of the Marine Corps, located near Washington, D.C., for two months.

Because his father was in the Navy, he said, Pettigrew has been part of the military all his life. His military service began when he joined the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Southern California, immediately following high school. Following his graduation from college, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy, and has had consistent military presence ever since, with 11 years active duty and 11 years as a drilling reservist.

A large portion of his military service has involved duty at sea or overseas. He has served eight years of sea duty for the Navy and five years on deployed assignments overseas. Prior to his most recent deployment as a WIU employee, he was deployed overseas for a year as a WIU graduate student.

Pettigrew is currently based out of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, (S.C.). He serves as Navy Chaplain and Commanding Officer of a Marine Expeditionary Religious Unit that provides direct support to military recruits and recruiters within the Eastern Recruiting Region.

During his most recent deployment, working on behalf of the Chaplain of the Marine Corps, he was assigned to provide pastoral counseling and assistance to individuals and families working through grief.

His responsibilities during his recent assignment were directly related to his specialty, working with people and providing assistance and grief counseling. He was assigned to the headquarters of the Marine Corps, located near Washington, D.C., part of the Naval Annex to the Pentagon, for two months. Working as the Chaplain of the Marine Corps, he was assigned to provide pastoral counseling and assistance to individuals and families working through grief.

“During my time away, I was responsible for providing support for all U.S. military casualties killed in action overseas. As part of the Navy/Marine Corps Casualty Liaison Team located within Dover Mortuary Affairs Office at Dover Air Force Base, I provided grief and support counseling for over 180 family members, and escorts for 18 casualties,” Pettigrew said.

In his civilian life, Pettigrew is an academic adviser for Western’s Board of Trustees Bachelor of Arts (BOT/BA) degree program. The BOT/BA program is a degree program geared towards non-traditional students, including veterans and full-time workers, giving them the opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree that compliments their educational needs and lifestyles. The general education program allows students to take classes of interest while completing their degree.

Pettigrew received his own undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California. After five years of active duty service as Surface Welfare Officer, he resigned his commission as a line officer to begin his studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School to become a Naval Chaplain. After serving as a pastor in the Quad Cities for four years and working as a Reserve chaplain, he returned to active duty and became a Navy chaplain before returning to the reserves to complete his studies and earn his Masters of Science in College Student Personnel at WIU.

While Pettigrew was deployed, other advisers in the department helped by taking over his work load. They also kept in contact through e-mail and phone calls. The staff also checked on Pettigrew and his family and maintained their well-established relationship. WIU has been recognized in the past for supporting employees in the military, including receiving “Patriotic Employer” certificates and being recognized by the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in St. Louis in coordinating work relief for Army Reserves Spc. Wayne Quesenberry, an admissions and records specialist at Western.

Pettigrew said that the most difficult part of coming back is trying to find time to slow down, after being involved with military work which involves constant tasks and thinking about what needs to be done. Outside of work, he is trying to get off of the military schedule and find time to relax and spend with his family. His oldest son, Josh Jefferson, graduated from WIU this May, with plans of possibly going into the military as well.

“Although I came back right into the busy registering period, all has gone well, and the student and staff support has been amazing,” Pettigrew said. “Without their support I know I would not have been able to make it, and make the transition back and continue my military service. The University is very supportive and military friendly.”

Caring for Col. Rock

Col. Rock, the newest member of the Leatherneck family, hasn’t even arrived on campus yet and already he’s a star. But once he gets here, where will he live? Who will take care of him?

picture of Colonel Rock at 8 weeks old

Col. Rock, here at 8 weeks old, will arrive in Macomb on Saturday, May 15.

picture of Joe Roselieb

Joe Roselieb, assistant director of residential facilities, will welcome Col. Rock to his new home.

While the 10-week-old bulldog puppy will one day have the important job of riding in convertibles during Homecoming parades and making the rounds at football games, he still, of course, will need an “assistant.”

Enter Joe Roselieb, Western’s assistant director of residential facilities. Roselieb should have plenty of school spirit to be up to the job: he graduated from WIU with bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies in 2007, was hired to his position in 2008, and earned a master’s degree in recreation, park and tourism administration (RPTA) in 2009.

Find out how he became the keeper of Colonel Rock–and leave us your comments and questions–below!


Can you tell us how you got this important new addition to your job duties?

It started with one of our football players, Victor Visoky, (a senior law enforcement and justice administration major from Northbrook, IL) when he was thinking of a way to try to generate more school spirit. Victor is from a big bulldog family; they have three they’ve adopted, rescued, or inherited. Then Victor bought one from the Siess Ranch in Kansas. Anyway, he was thinking about Western having that tradition of a four-legged mascot like some schools have, and his dad, George, just kind of took off. He contacted the Siess Ranch, he contacted the local [veterinarians], he got everyone on board. So then it came down to, “Who’s gonna take care of it?” So then, my director, John Biernbaum (University Housing and Dining Services), was at a Leatherneck Club meeting, and they were talking about it and John brought up my name.

So why did your boss suggest you? Are you a dog lover?

Well, my grandmother runs an animal shelter in Sterling (IL), and we always had animals when I was growing up. We’ve kind of accidentally become a lab family: we have three black labs. John loves them, too, and just because he’s my boss and we’ve talked about it before, he knew I was interested in dogs. I’ve always wanted a bulldog, but I knew they were kind of cashy–and my grandmother always said, “Don’t get a breed, get a rescued dog,” so that was always instilled in me. So then this opportunity came up. At first, I kind of met it with some resistance. I had three pages of questions, and when George called me we ended up talking for 45 minutes. After that, I was kind of excited and thought, “Why not?”

Will Col. Rock live with you in your house or apartment? Will he have a doghouse?

He’ll be indoors at my house. I bought my first house last March, and it’s really close to campus. I should never have an excuse not to come to work [laughs]. There’s a kennel in the house, there’s a big ‘W’ rug in front. It’s decorated with a Rocky logo above it just like the football players have above their lockers.

Are you going to have any help with taking care of him?

Yeah, my girlfriend will help out a little bit. She graduated from Western too, and she’s actually coming back here to do her master’s degree soon, so it’s perfect timing! I’ve found that so many people are excited about it, they just want to be part of it, be involved somehow. We’ve had a kennel in town offer to take care of him in case I ever need to leave for the weekend. I’m getting two to three people a day volunteering to babysit, walk him, etc., if I ever need help.

Will you be training the Colonel? Will he go to obedience school? What will be some of the day-to-day and larger responsibilities in taking care of him?

Obedience school is definitely on the plan. We’re still talking about it right now. I kind of want to get settled in, get to know him, get him into All Pets and get him checked out. Maybe we’ll do just a couple of sessions from some of the books that some of my grandma’s contacts have given me: just “sit,” “stay,” a few of those basic things. Potty training will be a big thing. That’s probably the biggest thing I’m not looking forward to.

Right now it will be about trying to get him acclimated to as many people as possible. It will be a little bit of a challenge to find events to take him to, since the school year just ended. But since he’s a puppy, he will naturally attract people when I’m out walking him, which will be nice. I’m going to bring him to Summer Orientation and Registration (SOAR), so that will take care of two things at once: get people excited about our new mascot, and also get him acclimated. It will also be about how I’m going to get him acclimated to environmental things he’ll need to become immune to, like… the cannon going off on the football game.

When will you actually meet your new “housemate”? How are you feeling about it right now?

I’m getting him at 11:30 a.m. on [May] 15th, [before Col. Rock will make his official debut at the Leathernecks Baseball game]. There are a lot of expectations. I know there’ll be some frustrations dealing with a new puppy, but I’m excited to see how people interact with him, how things go with him. I’m excited, I’m nervous…everything.

Food, fun, (and studyin’) in the sun

Students had the chance to take a quick break from classes last Wednesday (May 5) to take in some free food and bags games during the annual Union Block Party, which was held? at noon in the University Union Plaza.

University photographers caught some of the highlights.

If you were there and see yourself in these pics, leave us a comment below! Be sure to see the whole batch of photos here.

picture of a student studying at Union Block Party 2010

studying=more fun when it's in the sun

picture of students playing bags during 2010 Union Block Party

Students posing for photo during Union Block Party 2010

Say cheese! (Or...say "cotton"?)

picture of students playing bags at Union Block Party 2010

Dude! Where'd you get that Ninja Turtles shirt?

picture of President Goldfarb & Jack Thomas at Union Block Party 2010

What's better than food served up by the provost and president? (Well...maybe the fact that it's free!)

Students ‘dog-gone’ helpful during National Volunteer Week

As part of National Volunteer Week, students from WAVE, (or Western’s All Volunteer Effort), spent the week doing community service projects around the area, including spending time with seniors at area residential facilities, playing with children at the YMCA, and other activities.

Check out some of the highlights of that week (April 19-23) captured by WIU Visual Production Center photographers:

Cleanup at Moses King Brick and Tile Works national historic district in Colchester, IL (April 21, 2010)

(photos by Larry Dean)
student riding lawnmower

Crystal Sewell, special events coordinator for WAVE and a sophomore social work major from Aurora, IL, drives the lawnmower (check out that hood ornament!) while Tim Schroll, geography department staff member, gives guidance on the cleanup project.

picture of controlled prairie burn

(l-r) Karen Peitzmeier, a faculty assistant for the Peace Corps Fellows in Western's Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, (IIRA); Vladymyr Ivanyshyn, a junior law enforcement and justice administration major from Norridge, IL; and (in red sweatshirt) a member of Volunteer Now of Macomb, get started on a controlled prairie burn at the historic site.

picture of students volunteering --clearing brush

picking up brush at the historic Moses King brickyard site

Volunteering at the McDonough County Animal Shelter (April 22, 2010)

photos by George Hartmann
picture of students walking dogs during Volunteer Week

who is leading who, here?

picture of student with animal-shelter cat

The shelter is a popular spot for student volunteers on many days, not just during Volunteer Week.

picture of students playing with shelter dog

(l-r) Brandon Rusciolelli, a junior biology major from Rochester, IL, and Kyla Keefauver, sophomore pre-law enforcement major from Topeka, IL bond with one of the cuddly creatures at the shelter.

picture of students with small shelter dog

What is this dog's expression saying? Leave your caption in the comments below.

Want to see more? You can view the entire set of photos, and purchase copies, from the WIU Visual Production Center Lightbox online photo service.

Flower power!

Wow, we might have to get this plant an agent!Mari Mayborn of Macomb takes in the experience.

Grown in the WIU Greenhouse, this “corpse flower”–with its rather noticeable stench–has been making the rounds in the national and regional media lately, including the New York Daily News, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, the Peoria Journal-Star, and on CBS2 in Chicago, just to name a few.

Mari Mayborn of Macomb, at right, (who is a volunteer at the Tri States Audio Information Services at WIU and is married to geology faculty member Kyle Maborn), was one of several in the community to stop by and get a sense of the stench–and of the once-in-a-lifetime bloom–over the weekend.

But all “stinky” jokes aside, it’s a wonderful moment of “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” history that unfolded–literally–right before our eyes.

Read the story about this rare plant, and how long it’s been since it last bloomed, at

See some more views of the legendary plant here.

Did you stop by the greenhouse to see this rare plant? Leave us your comments below.