To her colleagues, she offers 0an understatement: 'I think I’m
ago, Jill Nomura was spending too many evenings working overtime
in a tech sector job when her mother spotted a newspaper ad for a position
in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Scientists who
dedicate their careers to environmental research were likely to be considerate
human beings, her mother reasoned. "They sound like nice people," she
told her daughter.
Mom was right,
said Nomura, who happily has worked as an administrative associate
in the Environmental and Water Studies Program since 1990. "It's a great
environment. The faculty and students are wonderful and brilliant, but
they are regular people. The working relationships are so easy, I'm
The many students,
staff and faculty who nominated Nomura for the Amy Blue Award would
counter that it is the other way around. Nomura's cheerful enthusiasm
and ability to solve problems are legendary, David Freyberg, an associate
professor of civil and environmental engineering, wrote in a recommendation
"Our lab would
fall apart without her," wrote graduate student Jeremy Bicker. "She
saved many an experiment from failure by knowing exactly how to get
things done around the university and by having the energy to handle
20 tasks at once."
duties are providing administrative support for seven professors and
40 doctoral students; coordinating conferences and travel for the department
and prospective students; and handling purchasing for items ranging
from office supplies to highly specialized laboratory equipment. Nomura
also designed, constructed and maintains a dozen department web
pages and produces department brochures and public documents. "Jill
is a (if not the) major resource for administrative staff throughout
the department," said Freyberg. "This is not just because she is approachable.
It is because she knows her business inside and out, and she finds a
way to help and educate people gently and without condescension."
"After six years
of trips to Jill's office, I now have absolutely no doubt that whatever
problem I bring to her will be solved," said grad student Matt Brennan,
as he gratefully recalled the time Nomura single-handedly arranged
for critical equipment to be ferried out to a research vessel anchored
in the San Francisco Bay, where he was conducting a time-sensitive study.
up in San Jose and earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University
of California-Davis. (She's a loyal alumna: "Stanford is great, but
UC Davis ...") She thought she might become a technical writer, but
disliked the routine overtime she encountered in the tech industry.
"What's nice about working here is that you work hard during the day,
but you can go home at 5 p.m. and cook dinner," she said.
Over the years,
Nomura's outstanding performance has led her colleagues to suggest
that she climb higher up the administrative ladder, wrote Jeffrey Koseff,
professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior associate
dean in the School of Engineering. She always demurs, citing her attachment
to the community that surrounds her.
"I think I'm needed
here," she said. "People come in here for help and I help them."