Originally posted on the University Record, Feb. 18th 2019

Jeff Craft, chief administrator for the LSA departments of History of Art and Classical Studies, will receive the Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence.

Craft will receive the honor at a reception Feb. 22, 2019.

The Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence was established in 2004 as a memorial to Johnson, a staff member from the Office of the Provost who died in 2003. The Provost's Office created the award to recognize staff members on campus who, like Johnson, have a positive influence in the workplace through their professionalism and personality.

In his role, Craft provides overall administration of non-academic department services, including supervision of administrative staff, budget management and departmental operations.

In a nomination letter, Elizabeth Sears, George H. Forsyth Jr. Collegiate Professor of the History of Art and chair of the Department of History of Art, said Craft is in many ways “the heart and soul” of the department.

“Everyone passes through his office regularly, whether to seek counsel and advice, or just to chat,” Sears said. “He cares. Never will he ignore a problem or pass the buck. If he can’t answer a question he will find someone who can.”

Sears said Craft is always thinking about how the department can prosper, constantly offering ideas and helping implement initiatives.

As one example, Sears and Craft worked together to launch a summer museum internship program for undergraduates. Sears said Craft was “essential to its success,” for he helped find funds, developed means to distribute funds, and contributed to established rules and procedures.

He also played a critical role in securing a multimillion-dollar benefaction for the department.

“I was in regular contact with Jeff when crafting the vision statements, thinking with him about departmental needs and devising a funding model, at once focused and flexible, that won the approval of the donor — a major achievement,” Sears said. “Without him, things would not have unfolded as they did.”

Along with being a significant voice in departmental decisions, Craft watches out for everyone, particularly graduate students.

In a nomination letter, one recommender, who had known Craft for seven years as a graduate student in the Department of History of Art, said Craft “has been approachable, kind, and willing to go above and beyond to ensure that graduate students in the department have what they need to succeed.”

In a nomination letter, Artemis Leontis, C.P. Cavafy Professor of Modern Greek Studies and chair of the Department of Classical Studies, said Craft has made a large and important impact on department operations since his arrival in Leontis’ department in July 2017.

At a time when staffing was in flux, Craft “diplomatically took charge of the office” and made several improvements, including hiring and training a new events coordinator and collaborating with the executive secretary.

A “math wizard” and meticulous researcher, Craft has heavily researched department resources, and thinks strategically about the connection between budget and mission, Leontis said.

He is the point person for the entire department for navigating funding, grants, budgets and salaries.

Along with offering to help develop budgets and execution plans for those applying for funding, Craft meets with every incoming graduate student and with continuing graduate students who request appointments.

“This is an important step for both boosting student morale and helping students to know with greater precision what money is available to them,” Leontis said.

“Graduate students are stressed by many aspects of their existence, from exams to budgets to the lack of certainty about their employment future, and Jeff does everything he can to decrease the stress by offering an answer to questions that students have not thought to pose.”