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Former provost, ‘Master Teacher,’ innovator dies


Veronica M. Muzic, whose dedicated service as a faculty member and administrator is tightly woven through 50 years of college history, died Tuesday, June 18, 2019, at the age of 82.

Muzic joined Williamsport Area Community College as an English instructor in 1968 and was awarded its first “Master Teacher” award in 1982. In recognition of her years of distinguished service to WACC and Pennsylvania College of Technology, the award was renamed in her honor in 2006.

In nearly four decades of teaching and administrative leadership – culminating in her retirement as vice president for academic affairs/provost, part-time service as a special assistant to the president and designation as faculty emerita – she was a tireless and selfless mentor to students, alumni and colleagues.

“Veronica was an essential piece of the fabric of our college, and she will be forever missed,” President Davie Jane Gilmour said.

Veronica M. MuzicMuzic was also a force in the greater community, giving voice to her passion for education and the arts through service to such organizations as the League of Women Voters, the YWCA of Northcentral Pennsylvania (which named her the Wise Woman of the Year in 2011), the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra and the South Williamsport Education Foundation. She was a longtime member of the board for the Community Arts Center, a wholly owned subsidiary of the college.

Her WACC/Penn College tenure was marked by instructional innovation, programming that consistently kept students’ enlightenment in mind, and the promotion of fairness and equality in and out of the classroom.

She was instrumental in any number of college enterprises: formation of the Women Series, which brought such authors as Alice Walker and Maya Angelou to campus; implementation of a developmental education program; the opening of the Tutoring Center; and the creation of SMART Girls, a program that uses hands-on career exploration activities to encourage teens to continue challenging themselves in science and math.

She helped facilitate (with faculty colleague Daniel J. Doyle) the Technology & Society Colloquia Series, which brought timely topics to the fore through appearances by national experts and learned college faculty alike.

Muzic was among the administrators who developed the college’s first bachelor’s degrees, served as the inaugural chair of College Council when the institution introduced an internal governance system and was pivotal in the college’s accreditation self-studies.

She created and – for many years – shepherded the collegewide Quality Through Assessment process, and she also led the successful regional reaccreditation of the college by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in 2012.

She generously supported the college’s annual giving drives and special projects, including providing a leadership gift to support the opening of the Dr. Welch Workshop: A Makerspace at Penn College, and was an early benefactor of the Madigan Library.

Despite that persistent involvement, however, she characteristically turned the spotlight on others – be they co-workers who shared her vision, or the students and alumni who benefited from her advocacy.

“My decades at Penn College have allowed me to know that our students leave here, ready to contribute their talents not only to their professions but also to their communities,” she said during a recent scholarship campaign. “They prove the validity of the college mission through their commitment to lifelong learning: the general studies graduate who went on to earn her doctorate and is now a university professor, the toolmaking technology graduate now an engineer and entrepreneur, the early childhood education graduate now the director of a community early care facility, the business administration graduate now in a leadership role in his state organization and the initiator of a statewide educational program for young learners.

“As important, our graduates sit on school boards, serve as mayors, lead and support community organizations, and contribute their talents through volunteerism. It has been my privilege to know these graduates and it is also a privilege and a choice to help the next generations of students write their own success stories.”

Muzic held a bachelor’s degree from College Misericordia (now Misericordia University) and a master’s from Bucknell University. Among her many positions, she served as coordinator of developmental studies, acting director of integrated studies, interim division director of integrated studies, division director of integrated studies, assistant dean of integrated studies, dean of integrated studies, dean of academic affairs and adviser to the Women’s Forum.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Muzic Family Scholarship at the college.

Comments

Rhonda Fisher,

My heart is heavy. We lost a great lady today.

Chef Paul Mach,

Veronica was willing to listen even when you could tell she didn’t agree, working toward a solution that considered everyone while having the students as her main focus. I learned a lot from her!

Gerri Luke,

So sad for the PCT community. A great loss.

Deborah (Astin) LaValla,

She was wonderful in so many ways. Always there to teach, listening to each student to learn as well. I loved having her as an instructor; I was blessed to call her friend when I was there. She will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.

Patty Schrader,

Such a life full of contributions, both personal and professional! What a special lady! I learned a great deal about confidence when I coordinated Veronica’s SMART Girls program. I will remember her fondly.

Pennie Vanderlin,

One of the best we had at South Williamsport High School before she went to Penn College. RIP

Ange Rymer,

I still think of her often. She was teaching an online class I was taking where we had a disagreement. She argued that you always have to account for some margin of error with regards to business (which I have learned applies to life in general). I still hear her words when my frustration regarding my expectations of perfection get the best of me. It’s a rare thing when someone can teach you such a powerful lesson that you carry the rest of your life. The thing that is even more amazing is that she has given me an amazing lesson I can pass down to my daughter to help facilitate her happiness in life. There were many great things about Veronica Muzic, but over 10 years after last speaking with her, I still silently thank her on a regular basis for sharing this gift with me. I can’t even imagine how many other students she has made such a profound impact on.

Annmarie Phillips,

So sad! Veronica was an incredible lady! Birch and I have so many happy memories. She will be missed by many!

Darla Logue,

Veronica, my dear friend, I shall miss you so very much. You were one of a kind. You had such a positive impact on my life and, try as I might, I could never thank you enough.

Janie Swartz,

Veronica was an incredibly special individual. I could talk to her about anything and everything and she always listened and had sound advice. She was a mentor and friend and always kind and funny. A large loss to the community and people that knew her.

Lisa Halberstadt,

My aunt was an amazing human. She will be missed deeply.

Linda Strous,

Veronica was an exceptional person. She will be missed by all.

Mary Trometter,

I had the honor of being one of her students. Veronica was so dedicated to teaching, it was incredible watching her in the classroom. Blessings to her family in this sad time.

Donna Carducci,

She was a wonderful person. I admired her as a teacher. She will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing her.❤️

Isabel Kocher,

What an amazing teacher, organizer, and dedicated people person! So glad to have known her and learn from her!

Rob Armstrong,

Wonderful woman, was a big influence and very supportive while I was at PCT. Had the pleasure of seeing her at the 25th Distinguished Visiting Chef dinner.

Brian Johnson,

Veronica was an outstanding mentor and friend during my time at Penn College. She is one of the smartest individuals that I have ever worked with in higher education.

William Ma,

Veronica was a great teacher and mentor. She will be missed deeply!

Kate Hickey,

I hate to read this news. She was an inspiration and a friend who brought out the best in others. I will miss sharing book recommendations with her! What a loss for Penn College and Williamsport.

Lisa Bock,

Veronica was a great mentor and a wonderful person. She will be missed.

Heather Baldwin Allison,

Sitting here reading this with tears in my eyes, but my memories of her are vivid and bright! She was a force within this institution, but always had time for a greeting and chat whenever I saw her out and about. She has done some much for Penn College and our students/alumni. She will be greatly missed.

Ryan Snyder,

I’m thankful for having had the opportunity to get to know her while serving as a Student Ambassador. During that time, I got to see firsthand the vision she had for the college and her dedication to education. Thoughts and prayers to her family as they celebrate her life.

Lynn Hanson,

Veronica Muzic was a powerhouse: a master teacher, an excellent administrator, a role model of leadership and service. I will always be indebted to her for the opportunities she offered me and for all that I learned by her example. Most importantly, I have been ever so lucky to call her my friend. She will always be “Ms. V” to me.

Katherine Walker,

I have immense respect for her devotion to Penn College and have been privileged to know her as a colleague. Keeping her family and friends in my thoughts and prayers.

Steve McCoy,

Very saddened to learn of Veronica’s passing. She was truly an inspiration!

Mary Sullivan,

Veronica has done more for Penn College and its people than any other administrator in its history. She put students first and fought long and hard for them behind closed doors to ensure they got the education and services they deserved. As an administrator, she took chances and offered so many of us opportunities that proved to be the foundations of our careers. She was/is an institution within an institution. Thanks, V.

JD Mather,

Mentor: a wise and trusted counselor or teacher; an influential senior sponsor or supporter.
Veronica was my PCT mentor from the first day I stepped on campus.

Patti Haefner,

One of the good ones. Kind heart and generous spirit.

James Gillis,

Veronica was truly one of the greatest women I have ever known. As a teacher, neighbor, friend, mentor, wonderful mother … she shared her joy for life and learning. I still hear her wonderful laugh and, from her (and Bill’s) lessons in raising a special-needs daughter, I’m reminded every day that one’s devotion, love and compassion are ours to give. Thank you, friend.

Denise Miller,

The epitome of PCT and beyond. She will indeed be missed, yet her many legacies she leaves behind will live on forever.

Ken Kuhns,

I can still remember how nervous I was that morning of Thursday, Dec. 16, 1976, as an enrollee at WACC. That morning I had just driven three hours north to campus, where I needed to take a placement test, build a schedule and find housing for the 1977 spring semester. My appointment was with Veronica in her office, and she seemed to take care of all my needs before noon that day. She was my first adviser, my first college English teacher and ultimately a very good friend. She is already missed.

Caryn Powers,

Oh, what very sad news. Veronica was such a special lady … she was a gift to not only Penn College but the community at large. I loved my association with her on the CAC board and devising a five-year plan for the Williamsport Symphony. I loved her honesty and dedication to her students and school. I cannot imagine how many people she has touched throughout her life. RIP, my friend … you shall be missed by many. ❤❤😢

Michelle DeWitt -Varvel,

Veronica was a great influence on me when I worked at Penn College. I was a single parent, struggling to keep my daughter in day care there, and she and Davie Jane provided a way. I’ll never forget it. She always took my hand and made me feel nothing is impossible. She will be greatly missed.

Walt Straiton,

A passionate visionary in so many fields.

Chuck Lebet,

She never forgot her students. I had the privilege to be a student of hers at South and WACC. When my daughter, Brandi Lebet Smith, graduated from Penn College, Mrs. Muzic asked Brandi if Charles Lebet was her father. Like I said, she never forgot a student.

Jen Hammond,

I loved Veronica – she was my teacher, my role model and ultimately my friend. And for most of my early 20s, I wanted to be her when I grew up. She was definitely the answer to the bold question on the orange sign that hung on her office wall: “Why not women?” I will miss her warm smile, sharp wit and incredible intellect. Her passing marks the end of an era for Penn College.

Mirza Rivera Farrow,

My heart breaks! I have never seen such a dedicated mother like she was. Her genuine love was expressed in everything she did.

Darlene Hill,

I was blessed to know Mrs. Muzic and her beautiful family … she was an amazing wife, mother and friend. She will forever be remembered as the wonderful woman she was … and I will cherish the memories I was honored to be a part of. Rest peacefully, Mrs. Muzic … you will be missed. <3

Karen Woland Payne,

I was privileged to know Veronica, first as my supervisor and later as a friend. She was a powerful advocate for the Children’s Learning Center — one more example of her dedication to the students and employees of Penn College. I’ll miss her.

Jenny Maurer,

Veronica was a mentor to many. God got a great angel. You will be missed by many.

Karen Hoffnagle,

Ah, Mrs. Muzic! Even after studying with many great professors, I remember your passion for literature and how you awakened my own in high school.

Beverly Crowl,

I met Ronnie and Bill when my husband started at Williamsport Vo-Tech, as it was called in 1962. We lived in the same apartment building and spent many wonderful days together cooking and baking and raising children. Sundays were always shared meals. They were both quite an influence on us in many ways and 58 years later we still visit and keep in touch. The devotion they showed to both their children and Ronnie to everybody she encountered in her educational journey and in the community will never be able to be replicated. I will miss you, dear friend. To Marcie, Catherine and Bill, my heart cries for you. Sending all my love and prayers for strength and comfort.

George Laycock,

For 30 years I was extremely fortunate to know Veronica but I only knew her personally. She was my mother-in-law. She was tireless, kind, unfailingly supportive, incredibly intelligent, had a quick wit, a good sense of humor, and regardless what might be going on in her life she always put the needs of others first. Always! She was a perfectionist. She kept us organized, made sure we correctly spelled our words, properly punctuated our sentences, and on occasion she might expand the rules of the family card game, as we knew them, such that it might improve her hand. She always kept us on our toes and she always positively influenced our lives. That was our Veronica. In 30 years we never had a disagreement, never a cross word, and Marci and I received nothing but support for whatever we chose to do whether she agreed with it or not. No one on the planet could ask for a better mother-in-law or a finer role model.

Tom Zimmerman,

Veronica Muzic – Trusted colleague, inclusive mentor, inspiring leader, tireless advocate, loyal friend, voracious reader, sly wit, indomitable spirit – thank you for this last life lesson.

Maud Wadestrandt Duquella,

To us, she was Ronnie, the leader, the intelligent and brilliant friend, who knew all the answers and was the best organizer of activities. She was the mature one to whom one could confide and ask for advice whenever the circumstance arises. She was also the joyful friend with communicative laughter, always ready for a mischief in and out of the dorm. We were lucky to grow together, learn from each other and keep our friendship alive until today, 60 years after graduation from Misericordia College, the friendship that cemented our growing years. We were fortunate to meet again in our old age, through her inquiries, to find each other, changed, but still the same, with loving families, but always the best of friends. I believe in the truth of this special thought – probably chosen by Ronnie – written at the opening of our Junior-Senior Prom’s invitation of 1957: “Friends, though absent, are still present” – Cicero

Jeannette Winner,

Loveliest lady.

Marcel Halberstadt,

More than a friend and adviser. More than one of my extended family. Veronica accepted/adopted me as a member of her immediate family from the moment we met, over 55 years ago. And I cannot, in my mind and memory, separate her from her loving husband Bill, who became the brother I did not have before then. Veronica was brilliant, bluntly honest, considerate and fair; I miss my friend and confidante. As in-laws, the four of us spent weekends in cabins in rural Pennsylvania and apartments on the Maryland seashore. We shared many cruises in the warm waters of the Caribbean and visited countless island paradises. As a fellow “academic,” I was fully aware of and proud of her professional accomplishments, as well as her dedication and commitment to her community. She loved Williamsport. But it is as a devoted wife and mother, hostess and family manager that I knew Veronica best. One of a kind!

Mariah Eugster,

Veronica was one of my favorite people. She is a part of my earliest memories … and although I lost contact with her for many years, I will be forever grateful I had the opportunity to reconnect with her a few years ago. I think of her often and will miss her forever.

Judy Quinti,

My first day on campus included interviews with department staff, school dean and the provost. As I waited outside her office, I picked up a pamphlet (I think it was the Course Curriculum) and turned the first pages. There was the school’s mission statement, so I read. Into the office I was led and what was the first question? “What do you think of our mission statement?” I responded with masked confidence, but internally – whew! A friendship developed after that and, during many lunches together, I learned how to be a professional woman in the field of higher education. A debt I will pay forward. My honor to have known Veronica.

Matthew Branca,

My heart is heavy reading this. Veronica was a favorite on campus. She is fondly remembered.

Henriette Evans,

Veronica, thank you for teaching us to primarily care about the students.

Billie Coffman,

In May 1989, Veronica was part of the search committee that interviewed me for the first full-time faculty for the early childhood education degree program. She said to me on my first day, “We hired you so that you can make that program grow and I’m not going to be holding your hand through this. You can take it and run!” That powerful statement not only inspired me, but motivated me to do the very best that I could do for the program and the college. Veronica was my mentor, my supervisor and my cherished colleague. Her unbridled enthusiasm and support for the early childhood education program and support of the Children’s Learning Center showed her dedication to the education of young children and the ECE degree program. Veronica, I feel honored to have worked with you for so many years. You will be missed immensely by the college community.

Rosemary Wolfe-Farmer,

A remarkable woman and an inspiring legacy. Proud to have known you. Rest in peace.

Elizabeth Meyer,

Imagine a woman with phenomenal energy, insightful sense of humor, incisive problem-solving abilities, deep compassion for students and colleagues, uncommon loyalty to family and friends, and passion for education and academic integrity. Then wrap all of that into a human being who is deeply committed to the principles of gender equality and who turns that commitment into opportunities — for both women and men — for personal and professional growth. Veronica did all of this with humility. She was a mentor to both staff and students. She loved: her family, her work, her colleagues and her institution. Unparalleled. We shall not see another like her and will miss her intensely.

Alice McCarley,

What more can I say! She must have been a grand lady. I did not have the privilege of knowing her, but know her daughter, Marci. She did a fine job in raising Marci, and we love her.

Gaye Ranck Jenkins,

A world without Veronica Muzic does not seem possible to me. All the accolades she had been given here among those others who knew her and loved her as a friend, teacher and adviser make it obvious that Veronica was so much to so many. As one who admired her greatly and will always remember the days I was privileged to be her mentee, I hear her still in my mind when I am working on a project. I saw her last summer at my spouse’s class reunion (yes, she taught him, too) and we talked for 45 minutes about what she had been doing and how my career was going as well. The last thing she said to me as we hugged was, “Keep working, retirement is death!” That was Veronica!

Melanie (Fillman) Carney,

Wow. I have very fond memories of Ms. Muzic. I loved the team-taught English class with her and Dr. Dumanis; she was a brilliant woman. RIP and I’m sorry for your loss to her family and friends.

Patricia "pkay" Reis Chaffey,

Veronica, you are now “resting in peace” in God’s arms and at home in His garden. I will love you forever… your Misericordia roommate and fellow teacher at WACC. Love always, and I will see you sometime.

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