As Winston Churchill once put it, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
Sandra Ober, secretary in the Office of Academic Affairs and Provost, follows that adage. For the past 12 years, Ober’s dedication to the University and her willingness to help her colleagues certainly has made a positive, visible impact on the Rider community.
That’s why Ober’s colleagues recently nominated her for the Nancy Gray Award. The award, named in honor of Nancy Gray, Rider University’s former vice president of Development, is bestowed upon a member of the Rider staff, faculty or administration who best exemplifies the ideas of institutional leadership, school pride and community service. Ober was recognized as the award’s recipient during the University Awards Banquet on April 30.
“I was just amazed that people see those qualities in me. I was very honored to receive this award. It demonstrates how people are always aware of what you are doing and saying,” Ober said. “I believe in having a positive attitude about life. I think your attitude has a lot do with how things turn out.”
Prior to working in Academic Affairs, Ober worked in the mailroom at Westminster Choir College and later in the Sciences on the Lawrenceville campus. Currently, she is also taking classes toward an associate degree in Liberal Studies from the College of Continuing Studies.
James Castagnera, associate provost and associate counsel for Academic Affairs, said Ober plays an instrumental role in the office that oversees the College of Business Administration, College of Liberal Arts, Education, and Sciences, College of Continuing Studies, Westminster College of the Arts, University Libraries and Student Affairs Division.
In addition to providing administrative support to Castagnera and Ron Walker, associate vice president for Institutional Analysis, Ober handles the planning, corresponding and coordinating of faculty and staff schedules for university-wide committee meetings, such as Honors Council, Academic Integrity and personnel searches. As the coordinator of travel reimbursements for faculty members, she manages budgets and the associated paperwork efficiently. She also manages all full-time faculty overload and adjunct contracts. Last fall, when Castagnera asked Ober to update the Policies Handbook for Academic Department Chairs, she had already worked in advance to revise the handbook.
“People sometimes forget that there are staff members who are at the hub and juggle those details,” Castagnera said. “I have never seen her lose her cool with anyone. There are a million issues involving students and faculty that can come up in a provost’s office. She just seems to handle everything with amazing grace and good nature. I think she has a fantastic sense of humor. In this field, you have to have fun.”