The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Gross and Rivest Chosen for Dean’s Service Award

Sandra Gross, Administrative Assistant for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and Pamela Rivest, Administrative Assistant for the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, have been chosen as the 2012 winners of the Dean’s Service Award. Gross has been variously described as an “organizer extraordinaire,” a “professional who gets things done,” and the “critical component to a smooth-running department.” Meanwhile, those who nominated Rivest said that she was “an extremely talented, creative, and capable person,” a consummate professional,” the “backbone” of her department, and a “low-profile wonder woman.”

According to one nomination letter about Gross, “Her capacity, intelligence, enthusiasm, and graphics-arts skills allow us to tackle new projects, ranging from launching the ECE newsletter, to management of content on the ECE webpage, to creating instruments to track faculty productivity, to continual improvement in the department’s internal and external communications, and to brainstorming on future projects.”

Another nominator called Gross “one of the most organized, efficient, and clever co-workers I have had the pleasure of working with in my more than 23 years in ECE.”

Yet another letter commented that the ECE department thrives “in large part due to Ms. Gross’ broad capabilities and skill sets, and also due to her willingness to take on new responsibilities, to take ownership of them, and not to be satisfied unless the job is done correctly, thoroughly, and professionally.”

The nominations for Ms. Rivest were equally compelling. As one nominator declared, “Pam is unswerving in her devotion to going way above the call of duty.”

Or take this praise: “Pam’s hard-driving work ethic, sense of loyalty/respect, drive for excellence/perfection, her high level of intelligence, and, most importantly, manager of an intense and demanding information flow make her a truly outstanding staff person.”

Finally, one faculty member noted that Rivest has made “things run better across the board” by “setting up a new, all-electronic mechanism for handling faculty search matters (a tremendous improvement over past searches), communicating with people across all levels on campus and off campus (i.e., making our lives so much simpler), having a fine mixture of self-confidence and flexibility to achieve goals on time, and willingness to accept responsibility even when it is not her fault (i.e., taking one for the team).”

The College of Engineering is fortunate to have two such fine employees, who are so well-qualified to win the Dean’s Service Award. (August 2012)