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Liberal Arts’ Ortiz Named Employee Of The Month

Published: December 15, 2011

Julie Ortiz, fiscal manager for the College of Liberal Arts (COLA), was recently named by her coworkers as Employee of the Month.

Ortiz, who graduated in CSULB’s class of 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Home Economics-fashion merchandising, was pleased and surprised to be recognized.

“I feel great about this,” said the member of the COLA staff since 2004. “It’s nice to have the people in my college recognize me for a job well done. I appreciate being able to work with all of them. Recognition has never been a priority with me. I just believe in doing my job and my pleasure is in helping others to be successful.”

CSULB president F. King Alexander praised Ortiz for her willingness to lend a hand, to take time out of her busy schedule to explain something and to play an important role in student, staff and faculty engagement. “Julie has excellent skills in dealing with individuals,” he said. “She is an inventive problem solver dealing with all situations with great aplomb.”

As COLA fiscal manager, Ortiz’ responsibilities include training the administrative support coordinators who work in 25 of the College of Liberal Arts departments as well as coordinating all of the operating fiscal expense paper work to ensure the departments follow university and foundation policies and protocols. “I work to make sure everyone stays within their budgets,” she explained. “I also coordinate department course scheduling with the 25 departments for summer and winter sessions.”

Ortiz helps to make sure the COLA fiscal data base is user friendly. “We use the system to reconcile every month to determine where the departments are in relation to their budgets,” she said. “It is a great system and easy to use. Prior to our data base, departments found fiscal reports scary and confusing to review and had a hard time keeping track of their budget. By making sure our data base is user friendly, we reinforce the data base’s whole purpose, to give our staff user friendly tools so that they can do their jobs in a more efficient way.”

Multitasking is one key to Ortiz’ success. “There always seem to be fires breaking out in the workplace every day and it is part of my job to help put them out,” she said. “I find myself changing my priorities to take care of those fires. I constantly have to work back to the agenda I had set for myself when I got to the office. But I’ve gotten used to that. You have to do what you have to do and it is all going to get done sooner or later.”

People skills are vital, too. “I have learned to be a good listener and to be patient when dealing with people,” she said. “I serve as a kind of mentor to many departments. I am here to work through their issues and guide our staff to a resolution. Some of the time, I wind up visiting individuals in their offices and working with them on a one-to-one basis, to make sure they are confident and comfortable in what they are doing.”

Ortiz came to CSULB from a career in the home fashion industry. When her employer went bankrupt, she discovered she could make a professional life for herself at CSULB.

“I first came to campus as a student because the university’s location was convenient for someone who lived in Garden Grove,” she explained. “I enjoy working in the College of Liberal Arts very much. My co-workers are really supportive. We are always getting praise for being helpful and praise like that makes a big difference. When people enjoy their jobs, it makes everything easier. I work with three assistants as a team. If somebody is overloaded, we back each other up.”

Julie Ortiz
PHOTO BY DAVID J. NELSON
Julie Ortiz with CSULB President, F. King Alexander

Proximity to her Garden Grove home is a big reason Ortiz enjoys working at CSULB. “My children, Nick, Savannah and Nolan, all attend local schools and campus camps in the summer,” she said. “My previous job required me to work holidays and weekends in 70-hour weeks. One of the perks of working at a university is the opportunity to spend more time with my family.”

She’s quick to add there are still plenty of long days. “I work hard to keep track of the office and to make sure deadlines are met,” she said. “I love the flexibility of this position and the flexibility of the people who work with me. I’m a working mother and I know how hard that can be.”

Her overall goal as COLA fiscal manager is simply to help everyone do their jobs. “We want to get things finished in a timely manner and to work in a positive, friendly environment,” she said. “Our daily goal is to get our daily jobs done.”

Ortiz is glad she made the choice to join CSULB. “I recommend working in a university setting not least because working here is like working in a miniature city,” she said.

“It can be lots of fun to work with students and faculty members. It is amazing what people here do in their research. This is a very interesting job.”

Ortiz received several gifts in addition to seeing Friendship Walk re-named Julie Ortiz Lane for the month. These gifts included a CSULB sweatshirt, a $25 gift card to the Cheesecake Factory, a $25 gift certificate to Buono’s Authentic Pizzeria and one free Whopper from Burger King.

–Richard Manly