As spokespeople, Stephanie Reitz and Tom Breen act as the voices for the University of Connecticut, but are also both big fans of UConn sports and all things news.
“I remember how stressful college is,” Reitz said. “But it will get so much better and it is worth it.”
Stephanie Reitz has been UConn’s university spokesperson for five years and Tom Breen has been manager of special projects and deputy spokesperson for three years.
Reitz compares her job to that of a news reporter.
“I take media calls and talk to journalists, as well as contribute to UConn Today and attend press conferences and Board of Trustees meetings,” Reitz said.
Reitz, originally from the Detroit area, and Breen, from Manchester, CT, worked in the same journalism circle for over twenty years before working together at UConn.
“The position is very fast paced,” Breen said. “It reminds me of when I worked in a newsroom.”
Breen’s position requires him to take press calls, prepare press releases, make marketing videos and deal with emergency communications, Breen said.
Breen worked at the Gazette, the Journal Inquirer and then the Associated Press (AP), he said. Reitz worked at the Hartford Courant before moving on to the AP as well, Reitz said.
Both Reitz and Breen were brought to UConn to write for UConn Today. Breen’s position is tailored more around him and the tasks he completes on a daily basis, he said.
Reitz gained her current position by first acting as interim university spokesperson and stayed with it.
“I covered UConn a lot when I was with the Associated Press, and then I found the school very interesting to watch grow and expand,” Reitz said.
Reitz said she knew she wanted to be a journalist since she was 15. She began working part-time at her hometown's newspaper and wrote a column for them about what was going on in her high school.
Reitz graduated from Michigan State in 1991 with a journalism degree.
“I do miss working in a newsroom, I liked having the inside scoop on everything,” Reitz said. “But it was hard with my son. I want to be there for him, and this job offers me a more flexible schedule.”
Reitz spoke highly of the people she works with and said she loves that she is doing something high-paced that is different every day. She said many people describe her as very goofy and she has yet to “become civilized” since leaving the newsroom environment.
“Working here brings me back to my college years,” Reitz said. “UConn is such an ambitious and optimistic place. I have the opportunity to cross paths with many people and it’s so cool to see students go out to the professional world.”
Reitz explained that she is raising her eight-year-old son to be a UConn fan and recently brought him to a women’s basketball game.
“Anyone who knows me knows that my son is my world,” Reitz said. “I also love to read. I don’t have much time to anymore, so I’m really into audio books right now.”
Breen, on the other hand, was exposed to UConn for most of his life. His father was a UConn journalism professor, and his mother got her master’s at the university. Breen himself graduated from UConn in 2000 with a political science degree.
“I was actually a political science major because my dad taught journalism, and it was hard for me to not be able to take his classes,” Breen said.
While at the AP, Breen covered stories from the opioid epidemic, to religion, to the Gulf oil spill, he said. When a job writing for UConn Today opened up he applied because he wanted to come home to UConn.
Breen describes his job as “interesting, worthwhile and invigorating.”
“I’m a big fan of public higher education and I enjoy what I do,” Breen said.
Breen publishes short horror fiction and loves to travel. He also said his twitter https://twitter.com/TJBreen says a lot about him.
“UConn is a great place,” Breen said. “If you’re interested in something, UConn will let you do it.”
Ashley Anglisano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.