Presidential Award of Excellence
Administrative Assistant III
Languagues, Literatures, and Cultures
It's no small task coordinating large academic groups with multiple programs, broad missions, and diverse personalities. Yet with her skills at managing people, schedules, records, and the unexpected, Barbara Armstrong is more than a match for the challenge.
In the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, Armstrong is the go-to resource for faculty, students, staff, and visitors seeking fast, accurate answers.
"Basically, I try to pace things out and anticipate what issues are likely to come up at certain times of the year," Armstrong says. "After 22 years, you get to know what to expect."
Whether it's helping first-year students find their way around, planning a conference with faculty, or assisting a foreign guest with visa issues, Armstrong gains high praise for her competence, diplomacy, energy, and willingness to take on new challenges. Among her greatest joys, she says, is working closely with students as they advance through the department.
"I really love working with the students directly," says Armstrong, who once taught seventh grade and high school French. "They're interesting. They have great energy. And they bring a different perspective to things."
It's a good thing Armstrong also embraces variety. On any given day, she might be handling routine businesses matters, lining up personnel reviews and searches, proofreading the department's French and Italian newsletter, and even proctoring an exam for an instructor who might be away at a conference.
As one colleague put it, there has never been a problem or question that Armstrong hasn't resolved, an e-mail she hasn't answered immediately, or a student turned away without a concrete answer.
Thanks to her painstaking attention to detail, the annual Foreign Language Awards Ceremony and other student activities run smoothly, every year. In fact, Armstrong not only speaks French, but she learned Italian to better serve the department.
Now that's molto bene!
-- Jim Graham
-- photo by Perry Smith