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‘Creative, Caring’ Employee In international Students Office Honored With SUNY Award

OSWEGO — The State University of New York recently honored administrative assistant Jo Richardson, who for 15 years has served as the main face of International Student and Scholar Services at SUNY Oswego, with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in the Classified Service.

SUNY recently honored Jo Richardson of International Student and Scholar Services in SUNY Oswego's Office of International Education and Programs with the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in the Classified Service.
SUNY recently honored Jo Richardson of International Student and Scholar Services in SUNY Oswego’s Office of International Education and Programs with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in the Classified Service.

The award recognizes employees who have continuously demonstrated outstanding achievement, skill and commitment to excellence in fulfilling the job; moreover, recipients also demonstrate excellence in activities beyond the scope of the job description.

In his letter recommending Richardson for the award, Dr. Joshua McKeown, director of SUNY Oswego’s Office of International Education and Programming, said the CSEA member excels — “without fail and to perfection” — in her essential work on behalf of students and scholars entering the United States to study and work at the college.

“When Jo started, there were barely 70 international students on our campus; today there are 225 from 34 different countries,” McKeown wrote. “Her work in processing their immigration documents and maintaining their files and government database entries is vital to their entering and remaining at our institution. She does it exactingly.”

McKeown praised Richardson for her outstanding customer service, including personal care in meetings with students and, at times, their families, and carefully handling health insurance, on-campus accommodations and visa status compliance.

“All of the work is complex and detailed, and … it has grown in volume,” McKeown wrote. “But she never complains, is always positive, pleasant and helpful, and shows creativity in resolving issues and tending to details.”

Praised as “creative and caring,” Richardson took on duties in enrolling the college’s study-abroad students in mandatory international health insurance. “This was added work and Jo had the capacity and grace to carry this out.”

Richardson demonstrated flexibility in adjusting to new government regulations, McKeown said, in the office’s dealing with Homeland Security field representatives, conditional admission, optional practical training, degree offerings and time-to-completion mandates.

McKeown said that in 2015, he undertook an international student service satisfaction survey, the International Student Barometer, administered to Oswego international students and representatives of home institutions around the world.

The college’s International Student and Scholar Services unit achieved a 100 percent satisfaction rating.

“This occurred with changes in supervisor and physical space,” he wrote. “The one constant was Jo Ann Richardson. I believe that she more than anyone else is responsible for that success.”

1 Comment

  1. Congrats to Jo and the work she has done, because being an international student is difficult, given our complex culture and language. Assimilation assistance must come from numerous sources to aid these young people embarking on their life’s journey. Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools’ international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and even informative books to extend a cultural helping hand so we all have a win-win situation.
    An award-winning worldwide book/ebook that reaches out to help anyone coming to the US is “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It is used in foreign Fulbright student programs and endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors. It also identifies “foreigners” who became successful in the US and how they’ve contributed to our society, including students.
    A chapter on education explains how to be accepted to an American university and cope with a confusing new culture, friendship process and daunting classroom differences. Some stay after graduation. It has chapters that explain how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work with/for an American firm here or overseas.
    It also has chapters that identify the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here.
    Good luck to all wherever you study or wherever you come from, because that is the TRUE spirit of the American PEOPLE, not a few in government who have the loudest voice!

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