Monica Moore, 'a master problem-solver,' wins Amy J. Blue Award

Monica Moore, who joined Stanford's staff four decades ago, is one of three recipients of the 2013 Amy J. Blue Awards. A Stanford alumna, her family ties to the Farm go back two generations.

L.A. Cicero Monica Moore

As a program administrator, Monica Moore splits her time among three interdisciplinary programs, but gives "100 percent of her support and commitment" to each, a faculty member wrote in nominating her for the Amy J. Blue Award.

High on the wall behind Monica Moore's desk – above the cabinet and the second-story window that looks out over a courtyard in the Main Quad – are three oil pastels dating back to her undergraduate days at Stanford.

Moore, who has worked for the university for four decades, produced the drawings – studies of paper bags in vibrant hues of blue, green and red – during her senior year. She recalled it as the year she "knuckled down" to complete her art degree, realizing that the end of her college days was quickly approaching.

While she had planned to become an art teacher, Moore entered the job market during the 1971 recession, a time when schools were laying off art teachers. After completing a six-month secretarial course and deciding that she needed to find an interesting place to work, she had a flash of insight: Stanford must need secretaries.

After landing a job in the Humanities Special Programs office, Moore soon found herself typing book manuscripts for activist theologian Robert McAfee Brown, a professor of religious studies at Stanford, and working with faculty and students in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society.

"I was right," she said. "I got some skills and I worked with really interesting people and I wasn't bored. Lo and behold – I wasn't bored."

Currently, Moore is the program administrator for three interdisciplinary programs: American Studies and Feminist Studies, which are undergraduate programs, and Modern Thought and Literature, which is a graduate program.

"Each of us may have a claim on only one-third of her time, but each of us feels as if we have 100 percent of her support and commitment," said Paula Moya, associate professor of English and director of the Modern Thought and Literature Program.

Moore is one of three recipients of the 2013 Amy J. Blue Awards, which honor staff who are exceptionally dedicated, supportive of colleagues and passionate about their work. The other winners are Tony Gaspar, lead glazier in the Glass & Sign Shop, and Alba Holgado, digital course management coordinator at the Robert Crown Law Library.

President John Hennessy is scheduled to present each of the recipients with an Amy J. Blue Award at a May 15 ceremony in the Lagunita Courtyard (on Santa Teresa Street, across from Roble Field). The ceremony, which is open to families, friends and colleagues, will take place from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

An alumna, and daughter and granddaughter of alumni

Moore, who was born in New Zealand while her father was teaching and doing research at the Dunedin School of Medicine at the University of Otago on a Fulbright Scholarship, returned to California with her family when she was 4 years old.

Along with an older sister and younger brother, Moore grew up in a home in the hills of Saratoga, Calif., a small town on the west side of the Santa Clara Valley. She had a horse, and the family had orchards, goats, chickens and ducks. Moore attended an all-girls Catholic school in San Jose before arriving at Stanford.

Moore, who lives with her 90-year-old mother in Redwood City, said Stanford has been a great fit for her career, not just because the work is interesting, but also because she could work part-time when her two children were young. Her daughter, Betsy, is an actor, and her son, James, is a musician. Moore met her husband, the late John Baker "JB" Moore, AB '71, during her freshman year on campus.

Moore's ties to the university extend to two earlier generations.

Her father earned a doctorate in biochemistry at Stanford and taught at Stanford Medical School when it was located in San Francisco. Her maternal grandparents also had Stanford ties. Her grandmother earned a bachelor's degree in English at Stanford, and her grandfather, a professional baseball player before World War I, coached baseball and junior varsity football at Stanford.

A 'master problem-solver'

Moya described Moore as creative and compassionate, energetic and organized, razor-sharp and patient, a "daily font of wisdom and practical knowledge," and someone who meets every challenge with a cheerful enthusiasm that is contagious.

"She is a master problem-solver, a genius at figuring out how to get things done quickly and well," Moya said.

Shelley Fisher Fishkin, director of the American Studies Program, said Moore unhesitatingly and cheerfully shoulders new challenges, even if that means having to learn new skills and to solve problems she's never encountered before.

"Last spring, history Professor Gordon Chang and I embarked on a major new research initiative in transnational American studies – the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford – that involves collaborations with scholars across the United States, and in China, Taiwan and Canada," she wrote.

"Monica agreed to have the funds go through American Studies, which meant that she would be responsible for administering them. This has involved many new challenges, including figuring out how to arrange international reimbursements, assisting with the distribution of bilingual brochures about the project, assisting with the undergraduate interns working with us, and dealing with protocol involving visiting government officials and professors from Guangdong Province. Monica handled each new challenge with aplomb."

Moore is known for celebrating the successes of students within the programs.

"When graduate students pass exams or make it through colloquiums – in which they present the first chapter of their dissertation to their committees and field questions from faculty – Monica takes the time to construct a congratulatory flier, with images specific to a student's research, that she will circulate among our community," said Vanessa Chang, a graduate student in Modern Thought and Literature. "She is genuinely committed to our success and seems truly happy when we do succeed."

Moore also is known for her generosity.

When one graduate student found out at the last minute that his housing plans had fallen through, Moore invited him to stay at her house – he stayed more than a week – until he found new accommodations. And when a visiting researcher's limited English led him to purchase a ticket to the Bay Area that was twice as expensive as it should have been, Moore helped him exchange it for one at half the price.

"Job satisfaction is as much, if not more, about whom you work with and whether you think what you're doing is worthwhile than what you do on an hour-to-hour basis," Moore said. "Stanford is great that way. You feel like you're involved in an important endeavor and promoting good things and you work with great people."