Janet Dill defines the tenor of our department every day with her efficiency, effectiveness, and genuine good will towards every single person she meets. She plays a crucial role in the department’s success in teaching, and productivity in outreach and scholarship. She does this through her formal roles as the department’s travel coordinator and its education coordinator, as well as through her helpfulness and cheer in every and any situation. Her knowledge of the University system is profound. The faculty is united in supporting her nomination for the Distinguished Service Award.
In her role as travel coordinator, she assists over 100 faculty, staff, students, and post docs with their travel forms, funding issues, and reimbursements year-round. As if that were not enough, she also coordinates and prepares travel for international workshops led by our departmental faculty. One such group, funded by NSF and run through CSU, is comprised of over 60 participants from 15 countries and 6 continents. This group has held meetings in the US, the Czech Republic, Australia, Panama, and Spain. Dealing with foreign money conversions, international banks and wire transfers, workshops that start in one fiscal year and end in another are just a few of the complications she faces. Janet handles these situations flawlessly, ensuring every participant receives appropriate reimbursement as quickly as possible. She does this with good humor, patience, and unsurpassed courtesy. Professor Ruth Hufbauer says, “Janet is amazing at keeping an enormously complex array of travel organized. She has put CSU on the map with a world-renown group of international scholars, who now see CSU as an efficient, helpful, and important university, which promotes outstanding scholarship and outreach.”
Her knowledge of the travel system helps not just us in BSPM. Paula White, Accounting Technician in the ABC office says of Janet, “She has gone above and beyond to make my job easier. When I transitioned into my current position, she was instrumental in helping me learn the process and regulations of travel reimbursement. Many times a complicated travel issue was resolved with a simple phone call to Janet. She is very organized and always has the information at her fingertips. She is always careful to warn me of possible issues with travel documents and to quickly resolve issues that may arise.”
As education coordinator, Janet works with and empowers undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and administrators, enabling BSPM to offer excellent courses to an impressive slice of CSU students. Her ability to communicate successfully with this diverse group of clients is truly outstanding. More than 1800 undergraduates take courses taught by BSPM faculty each year, and Janet personally interacts with a huge proportion of them, from football players to Hughes honors scholars. Janet also plays a key role on the Education Committee. Several years ago, she single-handedly took it upon herself to formalize a timeline for the committee to follow, which has ended last-minute scrambles, and helped the department to attract outstanding students, enabling us to compete successfully with UC Davis, Cornell, and other top schools in agriculture. Education Committee Chair Andrew Norton says, “Most impressive is that nearly all of the tasks that Janet accomplishes on a day-to-day basis are time sensitive, drop-dead-deadline jobs. In over 10 years I cannot remember a time when Janet missed a deadline, indeed, she’s always working ahead of schedule.” Here again, Janet’s work reaches beyond the department, as Paula White (ABC office) describes. “The process for hiring a grad is a shared process, but because of Janet, the steps completed in our office run very smoothly. She is very detail oriented and it is very evident in the quality of her work… I have heard time and time again from students that they will just “check with Janet and she will know. I have appreciated Janet’s friendly voice on many occasions when I have had several pressing issues to deal with at once. Janet is a great morale booster and a wonderful asset. When I hear stories from other offices, I count my blessings that Janet is a part of my department!”
While Janet’s abilities at the administrative level are outstanding, her most profound impact may be in her personal connection to and work with graduate students. She guides them from their first point of contact as applicants through to graduation. If prospective students’ applications are not complete, she contacts them personally to let them know what is missing. She makes certain that advisors use the correct forms, respond to prospective students, and mentor current students. She ensures that new students have the best office space and facilities possible. She does everything within her power to make sure that each student (as well as faculty, staff, and visitors) feels like a person, not just another item on the “to do” list to mark off. Janet is one of the first people graduate students talk to when there are small to major issues in their lives. She listens well and then offers information, support, or finds the help needed. When she talks with students, they know their lives are important. She finds answers to students’ questions and get faculty the help they need, even if that means coming in early, staying late, or changing her lunch hour to accommodate the needs of others.
Former PhD student Wyatt Williams, now with the Oregon Department of Agriculture says, “Janet always went out of her way to make sure I had everything I needed to successfully complete my degree – from helping me navigate the application process to preparing my workspace to deciphering degree requirements and forms… (There was) never a problem she couldn’t help me with. Not only does she excel at her job, she does so with thoughtful enthusiasm and professionalism. She truly cares…” Former PhD student Christina Alba, now a postdoc in Europe, says, “Janet had a way of making me feel calm and confident that all the administrative details of my PhD would work out. This is no small thing! She makes sure that students clear each hurdle, and she does it with class, humor, and a level of genuine caring and support that permeates and uplifts the culture of the entire department.” Current PhD student Christa Fettig says, “Janet was the first person to welcome me to graduate school and our department. I do not believe that I could have met a better ambassador of cheer and laughter. Janet always has, or finds, the answer to every question that I have….(she) interacts with those around her with grace and joy.”
Many students Janet works with are international students, for whom graduate school is even more complex. Says Tharina Bird, “As an international student I felt lost both before and after arrival in the US … First via email and later in person, Janet was answering and dealing with my various (often redundant) questions and issues in such a to-the-point manner, and with such great efficiency and friendliness, that that became the way I defined not only CSU, but also America! I soon realized that Janet is a clear outlier in her efficiency and willingness to help with basically anything. At times I feel guiltily that she is like an individual private secretary to me…(This) says a lot given that she is, from what I see, that for every student and faculty person in BSPM.”
Janet had the opportunity to apply for BSPM’s Coordinator of Programs position, and indeed was encouraged by many to apply. She told Professor Ruth Hufbauer when asked about it, that she simply loves her job, especially working with the students. Thus, instead of applying, Janet played a crucial role in training the new hire, Maggie Hirko, who started in 2008. They make an efficient, cheerful and animated team. Maggie says of Janet, “Working with her has made me a better person. I observe her to see what makes her so successful, and try to duplicate her actions.”
The faculty feel Janet Dill deserves this award for recognition of her constant professional quality and hard work over twelve years of service to the department and the university. She does not just perform her responsibilities to get them done; she truly cares about the people on behalf of whom she works. She makes the department function as a unit, with compassion and support for all students, staff, faculty, and campus visitors. Professor Bill Jacobi sums it up well in saying, “I think Janet deserves the State Classified Distinguished Service Award because she constantly performs her assigned duties with great care and perfection. …the reality is that she works two positions- one doing her everyday best but also a second job of being the department morale supporter. She makes the entire department an enjoyable place to come to work at everyday.” Again, her reach is far, as confirmed by Marilyn Brown of the ABC office, who says, “It has been an honor to work with Janet…I particularly appreciate her honest, consistent, positive, efficient manner. She understands and knows the machinery of the university, which makes her able to lead students through the maze of requirements to succeed in their degrees. She is always proactive and gathering information in a timely manner. It would be great if she could be recognized for her long-standing commitment to the University this year.”