The Cardinal at Work Insider (CaW) is excited to introduce a new feature that celebrates individual employees and teams whose contributions reflect our core workplace values of meaningful pursuits, pride, collaboration and connection.
This month, Susan Weersing, ’84, Psychology, is our CaW Spirit Star! Susan recently celebrated her 20th anniversary as a Stanford employee and is the associate dean for graduate and undergraduate studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S). In her role she works closely with departments, students and university colleagues in the areas of academic initiatives, curriculum reviews and assessment, graduate aid, student diversity, policy and best practices, and general problem solving. Susan was nominated by her colleague, Janeen Guisti, office manager in the H&S Deans Office, for her dedication and commitment to making H&S a better place for all students.
The CaW Insider chatted one-on-one with Susan about her experience as a Stanford employee. She shared some fun facts and imparted a few of her own words of wisdom on managing the collaboration process and staying connected with colleagues.
CaW Insider: What do you like most about your role at Stanford?
SW: I enjoy the breadth of my position. On any given day, I have the opportunity to work with students, staff and faculty from across the university on a wide range of topics and issues. I appreciate being in a position that allows me to influence the university and to drive change.
CaW Insider: What is your proudest moment at Stanford?
SW: I remember walking Stanford campus with my grandfather (BA 1925, MD 1929) on an October afternoon when he was on campus for an alumni reunion and I was an undergraduate. As I listened to his stories about his experiences at Stanford, it struck me just how embedded Stanford is in my family’s history and my own identity. I was proud to be a member of the Stanford community on that afternoon and continue to be each time I walk up the Oval.
CaW Insider: Are you working on interesting projects in your current role?
SW: I’m working with a stellar group of students on a pilot related to graduate student mental health and wellness. It’s a delight to meet with them and benefit from their energy and creativity.
CaW Insider: Can you share tips on how you've personally stayed connected with colleagues over the years?
SW: Caffeine, oceans of caffeine – CoHo, Coupa, or Bytes, the location doesn’t matter, but setting aside time for this critical activity does. Maintaining relationships with Stanford colleagues, past and present, is the key to developing a broad network of collaborators. The need for having such a network is especially critical at Stanford because the ability to effect change is almost always contingent upon leveraging that network. While it is not always possible to find a time to meet, it is possible to start conversations with, “How are you?” Get to know colleagues as individuals, not only as partners in work.
CaW Insider: How do you incorporate the collaborative process in your projects while working with students and/or other departments?
SW: Taking the time to obtain differing views and expert advice from those more knowledgeable about a topic routinely results in a better work product. When muddling through a problem, I’ll ask my staff for their thoughts or pick-up the phone to get colleagues' views. I’m also a fan of actively seeking opportunities for collaboration rather than waiting for a problem to present itself.
CaW Insider: What’s one CaW tip or word of advice that you live by?
SW: Take the time to connect with others. It’s easy to default to email or texting, but it’s critical that we take opportunities to engage directly with each other. Pick-up the phone, meet for coffee – it’s worth the effort!
Do you know a colleague or a team who motivates and inspires you and others through their everyday contributions? If so, tell us about them by completing the CaW Spirit Star submission form.