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.
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.”