Wissner called ‘the heart’ of Dietrich School dean’s office

Elspeth Wissner

Elspeth A. Poultney Wissner, who retired in 2018 after a long career in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, including most recently as administrative coordinator for business and finance in the dean’s office, died Nov. 26, 2020 at 75.

She was an alumna of the Dietrich School with a master’s degree in music in 2002.

“Elspeth was a joy to work and talk with as a student, a supporting staff member, and a friend,” recalled Deane Root, professor emeritus of music. “When she approached me with an idea for a master’s thesis, I wasn’t sure how to help her with the project she envisioned, but we found a way, and she wrote a helpful study of cantorial practice in Pittsburgh Jewish congregations. Later, as a staff member in the dean’s office, she was always welcoming, patient and prompt in responding to needs of individual faculty and departments.”  

Michele Montag, senior assistant dean at the Dietrich School, wrote in remembrance: “Elspeth was well-known for her warm greetings and kind heart, her stories of home in Australia, her incredible mentoring of student workers in the office, and the amazing snacks and treats she frequently shared with her co-workers. She was a go-to person for many people across the school; if you didn’t know an answer or weren’t sure who to talk to about something, Elspeth would go out of her way to help you succeed.”

"One of the greatest pleasures of my University career was having had the opportunity to work closely with Elspeth Wissner,” said Monika Losagio, administrative officer in languages and classics, “which ultimately led to the cultivation of a treasured friendship that continued into her retirement. Elspeth was a trusted colleague and noble advisor not only to me but to many administrators who regularly called upon her for guidance. For many of us, Elspeth was the first point of contact in the dean’s office since we knew that she would either already know the answer or she would be the one to find out."

"Simply stated,” added Kelly Lloyd, director of payroll and personnel, “Elspeth was the heart of our office.”

Born July 4, 1945, Wissner was married for 37 years to the late George A. Wissner and is the sister of Jackie Brennan (Des) and the late Bill Poultney (Maureen); sister-in-law of Velma Wissner (late William) and Beth Cancilla (late Frank); and aunt to numerous nieces and nephews.