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Cheryll Ramirez, ‘the heart’ of VPUE, wins 2021 Amy J. Blue Award

Cheryll Ramirez, director of operations in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, is among this year’s winners of the Amy J. Blue Award, which honors staff members who are exceptionally dedicated, supportive of colleagues and passionate about their work.

Six months after Cheryll Ramirez became director of operations in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE), the coronavirus became a global pandemic and the governor of California ordered a stay-at-home order for the state.

Cheryll Anne Ramirez (Image credit: Andrew Brodhead)

For the next 18 months, while many at Stanford worked remotely, she became the go-to COVID person at VPUE, helping members of its staff of more than 200 people thrive while working, including lecturers, administrators, academic advisors and student services staff.

Ramirez, whose campus office is located in Sweet Hall, oversaw operations from the office she created in the Sunnyvale home she shares with her husband, Jay, and a pair of Shih Tzu dogs.

Ramirez is among this year’s winners of the Amy J. Blue Award, which honors staff who are exceptionally dedicated, supportive of colleagues and passionate about their work.

Colleagues who nominated Ramirez for the award described her as “the heart of the unit,” someone who looked after their work needs, including finances, facilities and resources, and, even more importantly, tended to their well-being during a tumultuous time.

“During lockdown, she sent out uplifting messages weekly to celebrate people and show her appreciation, and inspired us to celebrate each other,” said Lina Yamaguchi, a web creative lead and strategist in VPUE.

“She developed creative ways to encourage community and came up with fun incentives to boost our morale and help us get to know each other. Even those of us who have known each other for decades have learned new things about our closest peers. Cheryll is reliably there for her colleagues, and has made the past year and a half indisputably better by making it her mission to be present for everyone by spreading her warmth and good cheer, and inspiring us to be like her.”

Ceremony will honor 2021 and 2020 Amy J. Blue Award winners

In addition to Ramirez, this year’s other Amy J. Blue Award winners are Cathy Garzio, vice chair and director of finance and administration in the Department of Medicine at the School of Medicine, and David Mucciarone, lab manager in the Department of Earth System Science at the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences.

They will be honored in a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12, in the courtyard of Lagunita Court, located on Santa Teresa Street opposite Roble Field. The ceremony will also recognize three staff members who won 2020 Amy J. Blue Awards and were honored last year during a virtual event. President Marc Tessier-Lavigne will present the awards.

Immigrated to California

Ramirez, who was born in the Philippines, immigrated to the Bay Area as a teenager with her family. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Santo Tomas, a private Catholic college in Manila.

Her career in higher education administration began at Pepperdine University, she worked as a finance analyst. Five years later, she moved back to the Bay Area to work at Stanford. Over the last 13 years, she has worked in several VPUE units – academic advising, residential programs and central office operations.

In residential programs, Ramirez served as budget director under James T. Campbell, faculty director of the programs and the Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History. He said Ramirez was absolutely delightful to work with – engaged, cheerful, supportive and unfailingly kind.

“With her long years of experience, Cheryll knew every possible Stanford procedure inside out,” Campbell said. “She not only solved every problem I presented her with – and I created more than my share of problems – she also prevented a lot of problems from happening in the first place. Yet for all her supportiveness, she ran a very tight ship. Every year, we came back with a stable or even reduced budget request because of savings we had managed to accrue during the previous year.”

Elizabeth Soroka, director of human resources and academic affairs in VPUE, said Ramirez’s leadership has been instrumental in the unit’s success – in the continuity of programs, service and employee morale – throughout the pandemic.

“Cheryll has led the strategic design and implementation of our plans to transition back to the office from home,” Soroka said. “She has been the go-to person for all questions COVID, the builder of staff engagement surveys, the creator of collaboration spaces and the troubleshooter for virtual issues. Cheryll’s innovation, curiosity and ability to lead are evidenced in our new workforce model, which establishes new norms but keeps the thread that make VUPE and Stanford who we are.”

Ramirez, who has spent her entire career at Stanford in VPUE, said she will always consider the unit as her second home.

“My colleagues are my extended family and I am grateful for all the opportunities for growth they have provided over the years,” she said. “I share my success with all of them.”