#NobleIntegrity: Coleman Weibley
As soon as you meet faculty member Coleman Weibley, you immediately get the sense that he wants to make sure you feel welcomed and comfortable. His booming laugh and warm spirit are just a few of the qualities that make him approachable to students. Always willing to lend a hand, even when he’s not asked, Weibley attributes his nature to the way he was raised: “My parents taught me to be kind and polite and to help others.” He is someone who leads through service and strives to have the “heart of a servant.” At the end of the day, he says, “My goal is to be helpful and to do what I can to help others. ”
When the COVID-19 crisis began to affect Mercersburg’s students, Weibley didn’t hesitate to step up and help out. The school needed faculty members to stay on campus and support students who couldn’t travel home over spring break due to the pandemic. Weibley immediately volunteered to coordinate this effort: “As a 12-month faculty member [working as the director of Mercersburg Summer and External Programs], I wasn’t planning to take spring break off. I said, ‘I’m here, let me help.’”
Planning for the students’ time over spring break needed to happen rapidly. When asked about this quick turnaround, Weibley cited his experience working with Mercersburg’s Summer Programs, which enabled him to think on his feet. He coordinated with the Office of Student Life (specifically faculty members Jo Wrzesinsky, Trini Hoffman, and Chris Howes) to plan mall shopping trips, movie nights, on-campus activities, and faculty-hosted meals. He also worked with SAGE Dining Services to be sure students would have access to meals throughout the break. Because of the increasing travel bans, the group of students grew from seven to 20 rapidly.
Weibley’s first priority was making sure the students had a good time while on campus, and he wanted to be flexible to what they wanted to do. “Being stuck on campus when everyone else gets to go home was pretty emotionally and mentally taxing for the students,” he says. “Being able to accommodate their needs and wishes was my first priority. I kept thinking, ‘If my kid was stuck on campus and couldn’t come home, what would I want someone to be doing for them?’”
Weibley first remembers hearing about COVID-19 in mid-February, when it was ramping up in Asia, and Mercersburg’s international students were beginning to get concerned, even though it hadn’t hit the U.S. yet. While the school was discussing possibilities at that time, Weibley says he didn’t anticipate how events would unfold. In the middle of spring break, he realized how big the virus had become. When the start of the spring term was delayed, Weibley helped students make travel arrangements so that those students still on campus could return home safely. He hoped for the students to return to campus in April, though unfortunately, that was not the case.
Even for someone as positive as Weibley, staying optimistic during quarantine has been challenging. In the spring, he was forced to make the difficult decision to cancel Mercersburg’s 2020 summer programs. “That decision took an emotional toll on me,” he says. “It was really taxing to think about how the decision impacted our participants and seasonal staff.” To combat these emotions, he has been staying busy, helping the Office of Student Life, the external teams, and anyone else who needs assistance.
Weibley also calls himself fortunate to be in quarantine with his wife, Bailey Blake Weibley ’11, and their daughter Parker, who turned 1 in July. “My daughter brings me so much hope and joy,” Weibley says. “To be able to take a break from calls or meetings and spend an hour playing with her has been refreshing.” His daughter gives him hope for tomorrow and for the end of this crisis. Weibley has also been reaching out to people: old friends, alumni, and former coworkers, to name a few. He feels lucky to have this time now to do the things he’s always meant to do.
Currently completing his seventh year at Mercersburg, Weibley has long been a staple of the community. With the exception of one summer, he has worked for Summer Programs in some capacity since 2005, starting off as a counselor for United Swim Clinics (an external program hosted at Mercersburg Academy). Eventually, he became the director of the United Swim Clinics and would jokingly ask Wrzesinsky, Mercersburg’s current dean of students and former director of summer programs, “When are you going to hire me to come work at Mercersburg?” When she reached out with a potential opportunity in the Office of Summer and Extended Programs, he thought she was joking.
Weibley worked in Mercersburg Summer Programs for four years before serving as director of Mercersburg Summer and External Programs for the past three years. This summer he leaves this role to become Mercersburg’s assistant dean of students, where he’ll deal with dorm life, attendance, and minor student infractions. To Weibley, the main goal has always been to serve the students, specifically in residential and educational life. He is always thinking about how any decision affects the students and how to give them the best experience possible. Weibley supports Mercersburg’s mission by supporting them: “Being able to help our students grow, build character, and build their interdependence, are all things that I see as important to any job here on campus.”