Grossman and James honored with USF’s highest staff award
The College of Public Health knows Jessica Grossman and Kristina James are outstanding. As of April 2, the entire university knows, too!
Ms. Grossman and James are two of 38 individuals presented with the Outstanding Staff Award for 2012.
Joann Strobbe, associate vice president and CFO for USF Health, bestowed the honor as members of their personal and professional families cheered them on. Each awardee received a plaque and a $500 check for their outstanding work in the university.
As academic service administrators, it’s their job to manage a broad range of areas including admissions, course schedules, registration, academic standing, faculty ranking, and budgeting for their department. Depending on the time of year, any of these responsibilities can quickly escalate from an opportunity to an issue. However, what makes Grossman and James truly outstanding is their ability to navigate the day-to-day tasks and the hot-button issues with finesse and a gingerly touch.
“There is no task she will not accept, no process or system she will not learn, no challenge she will not handle with professionalism, no workload she cannot manage, and no day without a smile and a word of encouragement,” says William M. Sappenfield, MD, MPH, chair of Community and Family Health and James’ supervisor.
A native of Kailua, Hawaii, Ms. James worked in academic and student affairs for the University of Florida‘s Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy before arriving at USF. She joined the college in 2011 and recalls her surprise at “How passionate everyone is about public health!”
“Kristi came in to the department at a time of significant change, during its first external search for a department chair,” says Ellen Daley, PhD, MPH, associate professor in CFH. “So, not only did she need to learn the intricacies of a complicated job, but also to interact with two very different leadership styles.”
“Being the first year for both of us, we had to learn, assess, and enhance many of the processes,” says Dr. Sappenfield. From ushering the department through strategic initiatives to supporting a new method for accepting graduate students to learning USF’s budgetary procedures, “Kristi has done an amazing job …”
Ms. James earned bachelor of arts degrees in geography and psychology from Dartmouth College. For her graduate studies, she headed south and received a master’s degree in education from the University of Florida.
When she’s not providing outstanding service to the college’s largest academic department, Ms. James enjoys hiking and camping with her husband Mike. She admits, “We are totally in love with our dog Winston, a three-year-old Berger Picard (French Shepherd). We enjoy taking him on walks, playing, beaching, hiking, and camping with him, too!”
Ms. Grossman also arrived at the College of Public Health during a time of significant change. “We [in the Department of Global Health] were in desperate need of re-organizing and restructuring,” says Azliyati Azizan, PhD, assistant professor. “She was the perfect individual for the position and has exceeded everyone’s expectations from the very start.”
Grossman shares, “Before arriving at USF, I was not familiar with the terms global and public health. What amazes me most is how it is involved in nearly every aspect of our daily lives.”
“Jessica has proven herself to be a superb organizer,” says Thomas D. Unnasch, PhD, chair of Global Health and Grossman’s supervisor. “She developed a series of processes and procedures that resulted in a more efficient and friendly interface with students.”
When the college moved from two orientations to one, Grossman saw an opportunity. She created a PowerPoint presentation for new students introducing them to USF, the college, and department. Another opportunity that she seized was collaborating with the Office of Academic and Student Affairs to create the Peer Academic Support for Students (PASS). By pairing first and second-year graduate students and hosting academic and social events throughout the year, PASS strives to alleviate fears and welcome newcomers to the college.
“Jessica has incredible attention to detail and does not rest until the job is done,” says Jaime A. Wilke Corvin, PhD, MSPH, CPH, an assistant professor in Global Health. “She is regularly the first to arrive and the last to leave.”
Growing up in Buffalo, New York, Ms. Grossman always wanted to be an attorney. She worked as a legal assistant for several years after earning a bachelor’s degree in history from SUNY Buffalo, but soon discovered that the “business/administrative angle was more my forte.”
In 2007, she relocated to Tampa with her husband and joined USF’s Center for Biological Defense. Ms. Grossman worked as a staff assistant by day and enrolled in MBA courses at night. During her last semester of grad school, she joined Global Health as their academic services administrator.
“Jessica’s commitment to her studies and work is noteworthy,” says Dr. Corvin. “She often ate breakfast, lunch, and, on class nights, dinner at her desk to be sure that both her work and studies were complete.”
A few things that Jessica can’t live without are crafting, baking, and playing with her cats. Likewise, as the “Central cog that keeps Global Health running,” Dr. Unnasch shares, “I could not run the department without her.”
Hopefully, the College of Public Health won’t have to envision a life without Ms. Grossman and James for years to come.
Story and photo by Natalie D. Preston, USF College of Public Health