At the busy administrative epicenter of George Mason University’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages sits Jen Barnard. The department offers study in 16 languages, has nearly 100 faculty and more than 1,000 students—and Barnard works with almost everyone in the department.
Barnard, who has been the Modern and Classical Languages’ office manager since 2004, composes the academic schedule, manages the budget and hiring, advises students and faculty, and runs logistics for the Graduate Teaching Assistantship program, a collection of responsibilities she called “quite an endeavor.”
For her attention to detail, expertise, and skill set, Barnard is March Employee of the Month.
“Given her long tenure at Mason, she knows how to get work done, and who to call when items are stalled. When new processes or procedures are introduced, Jen knows the right questions to ask to ensure the college is thorough in its approach,” said Kim Dight, executive director of finance and human resources in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). “Working with Jen is a pleasure.”
Barnard said she was “very surprised” to be named Employee of the Month.
“I had no idea that anyone had nominated me and I feel very humbled and very grateful to the folks that I work with,” she said.
“Jen has always been a mentor figure for faculty and students in our department and her strong, kind leadership is the force [that] keeps us all afloat in times of transition,” said associate professor Christy Pichichero, director of faculty diversity in CHSS. “Jen Barnard is an extraordinary person who does extraordinary work.”
How she got here:
I worked in restaurant and retail management prior to coming to Mason. I earned my BA degree here in 2004 (BA foreign languages, French; minor in Women's Studies), and worked at a local bookstore and as a student assistant in the department up until graduation. I applied for the office manager position just after graduation, and began in June 2004.
Best day on the job:
My best days are the ones that are routine, where faculty and students stop by the office to say hello and chat, get their questions answered as needed. I enjoy getting to know folks on campus, and helping them as much as I can. While I do love the exciting things that happen, it's the day-to-day relationships that sustain me.
What she likes best about working at Mason:
My friends and colleagues are the best part about working here. I also enjoy being able to attend so many wonderful events that happen year-round. I've seen talks by and met folks like Cornel West, bell hooks, Laverne Cox, Dean Spade, Amy Goodman, and Alison Bechdel, among many others. I am so grateful to Mason for providing these kinds of opportunities.
What she does when not working:
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. I read a lot and like to do jigsaw puzzles. My partner and I started fostering dogs a few months ago—we just took in our second recently. And if you ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you I love coffee. Anything coffee.