Tony Montefusco says goodbye to RWU

In his 25th year at Roger Williams University, Tony Montefusco will be leaving the school on Nov. 2 to pursue another career in his hometown of Cape May, New Jersey.

The Director of Residence Life & Housing has had many titles during his time here — enough to have 11 different business cards made with his name on them.

Montefusco began working at RWU in 1993 as a Willow Hall director — a title now known as a CORE. He held events called “Cocoa Nights” where he and other hall staff gathered to drink and talk about their programs. These friends, Montefusco said, are still around today, and even celebrate Christmases together 

In 1996, Montefusco planned to leave. According to an article in the student newspaper, he wanted to climb the ladder of a smaller school to get to a higher-paying job. But instead, following the 1995-96 academic year, he took a job as the director of conduct at RWU — a job he grew to hate.

“I did that for two years. Hated it,” he said. “Every day was negative. There was a lot of conduct. A lot more [than now].”

Just two years after he accepted the conduct job, he took the position that he has now held for 19 years. He has had many lengthy titles attached to his name, like the “Executive Director of University Housing Operations.” Montefusco said that the school told him he actually was not supposed to have that specific title, even though they printed business cards for him. Despite the various titles, he has always done the work of the Director of Residence Life and Housing.

Montefusco will leave the school with more than it had when he worked in Willow. During his time as the director, he rented various short-term housing in the area, closed the deal that made Baypoint Inn a permanent residence hall and was a part of opening three on-campus dorms. North Campus Residence Hall was his project from design to finish.

“That was the big one,” he said. “North Campus was my baby.”

He is often known to incoming first year students as the guy who wears the funny suits. For freshman orientations, Montefusco wears either a tropical flamingo suit or one that looks like a game of Pac Man — being an ‘80s kid, Montefusco loves to wear the latter. He has often been referred to as the “Suit Guy” amongst those students.

“He was always there for the students,” said his administrative assistant, Tracey Mallory.

His new job won’t give him the connections he has now with college students, which is something he says he will miss. Perhaps one of his fondest memories comes from many years ago, when four female students jumped into the fountain at the entrance of the school. It was reported to him by Public Safety, but instead of taking measures to prevent anyone from doing it again, Montefusco made sure that students were safe if more tried to copy the first four. He anticipated others would follow after they heard the news, and he was right. Although an unofficial event, this became known as the “Fountain Jump” that graduating seniors get to take part in at the end of their final academic year. 

He says that each year at the jump, he has had at least one student come up to him and thank him for making their college experience a good one. That is one more thing he will miss this year.

Taking a job filled with tough decisions that have to be made every day leaves some people unhappy. That’s just what happens in a position of that magnitude. It’s the appreciation of students and staff, he says, that has kept him here for 25 years.

“[He was] always there to teach and help you with things,” said Debra Forrest, who worked with him for 11 years. “If I had to pick a boss, I’d pick Tony.”

But now it is time for Montefusco to pursue another adventure. He will leave his house in Warren behind and travel to New Jersey for the next part of his life.

“I’m really thrilled about hopefully making that impact there,” Montefusco said. “I know it’s not going to be the same and I know it’s going to have a different effect, but that’s OK.”