Farewell to Mechelle Gehle-Wann

Mechelle Gehle-Wann – NEOMED’s director of environmental health and occupational safety, and also a mentor, colleague, historian and genuine friend – will  be sorely missed by the University, and especially within Campus Operations, when she retires June 30 after 31 years of dedicated service.  

Mechelle Gehle-Wann’s career at NEOMED has been nothing short of exemplary. Mechelle enrolled as a medical student at the University in the late 80s after graduating cum laude from the University of Akron in two years. While taking a neurobiology course, she decided to follow a different career path, away from practicing medicine. Mechelle started her work career as a research assistant to Theodore J. Voneida, Ph.D., the founding chair of the Department of Neurobiology.

The fact that Dr. Voneida hired her speaks volumes, not only for how well she excelled in his class, but also for her professionalism. Working as Dr. Voneida’s research assistant, she was responsible for oversight of his lab and collecting data from experiments. In her role as a research assistant, and in following years as a safety and radiation officer and administrator, Mechelle developed a rapport with the research faculty and earned their respect, due to her years of experience working alongside them.

Mechelle holds a master’s degree in biology and an M.B.A. (earned with honors) from Kent State University. She is also certified as a safety professional through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. Her biology and medical education, along with her research experience and business administration knowledge, qualified Mechelle incredibly well to become the Director for Environmental & Occupational Health and Safety (EOHS) at NEOMED. She was the sole member of EOHS for years, until she finally hired a Safety Manager when the University research doubled in size. 

From an instructional standpoint, Mechelle was far ahead of the curve when it came to online education. In 2005, utilizing the Web CT learning management system, she designed multiple compliance modules that could be taken online. This work was submitted for presentation to the state of Ohio and chosen from hundreds of abstracts to be highlighted as exemplary work at the eighth annual Ohio Digital Commons for Education (ODCE) 2007 conference. Many universities were intrigued with regulatory compliance training taking place online, since at that time very few universities in Ohio had achieved online regulatory training. This speaks to a monumental achievement when you consider that Mechelle literally was working as an office of one.  

Mechelle has never wavered in her responsibilities and is highly respected within the NEOMED research community. NEOMED has been fortunate to have her dedication and skills for more than three decades. A farewell gathering for Mechelle was being planned before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Due to physical distancing requirements, such a gathering is no longer possible. Please take the opportunity now to contact Mechelle with a kind word of appreciation.  

Submitted by Dale Hluch and Sharon Combs

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