Things are only impossible until they’re not.
– Jean-Luc Picard
Volume 73 | Issue 2
March 2005

Pro-File: Patti Haas, Thomas Jefferson University

Q. What do your job responsibilities entail?

A. Financial management, planning, information systems, personnel management, marketing and public relations of the University Activities Office, including the campus fitness and recreation facility, and the campus bookstore.

Q. What would your staff, colleagues, or students say about you?

A. Is ambitious, has a good sense of humor, is sensitive to individual and group needs, and delegates well. Networks locally and globally and demonstrates a willingness to learn and implement innovative customer service and business enhancement ideas. Strives to understand the dynamics of the whole organization and utilize university resources efficiently and effectively.

Q. What's one innovation or project of which you're proud to have helped implement?

A. One project of which I am proud to have implemented is the new Jefferson Medical and Health Science Bookstore. I was asked to assume the additional responsibility of director of the university bookstore in 2001. At that time, planning was initiated to enhance the store's physical space, inventory management, and overall customer service.

Since 2001, a new inventory management system was implemented. A bookstore advisory committee, comprised of faculty, administrators, and students from Jefferson's three colleges, was formed. A mission statement was developed.

Most recently, I worked with university representatives and outside consultants and architects to identify, lease, and design a new space for the bookstore. In addition, the decision was made to relocate the campus commuter services and photo identification functions into the new store. In June 2004, the bookstore relocated from a space of 2,700 square feet to a newly designed store of 6,100 square feet. Perhaps most importantly, through these processes, we have successfully improved the bookstore's position as a collaborative university service.

Q. What's the biggest lesson you've learned while working in the profession?

A. Understand your students/customers and actively recognize their needs! As an academic health center campus, our students are not traditional undergraduates; the student population includes upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. This student population has significant time constraints, and they are focused on their professional education and clinical experiences. It is a challenge to identify the right balance of program offerings which is sensitive to the daily academic schedules and meets the social, cultural, recreational, and wellness needs of our students while simultaneously ensuring that a sufficient number of books are in stock when a new clinical rotation begins! Feedback is essential!

Q. What is one phrase to live by or bit of advice you might have for future generations of union professionals?

A. Maintain flexibility in your approach to your responsibilities and how you interact with students. Flexibility will enable you to anticipate the unexpected and improve your service. Seek opportunities to collaborate with other departments who you might not interact with on a regular basis. You'll not only gain a better understanding of other campus functions, but you'll have an opportunity to share resources and to set a real teamwork example. Finally, network and be willing to share your ideas, successes, and challenges. It will enhance your professional experiences and those of your students and staff.

Q. Is there anything else you would like ACUI members to know about you?

A. Having graduated with a degree in biology, I never would have imagined a career in student services! I feel fortunate that this opportunity crossed my path. Students are a wonderful group of individuals with whom to work. With each new class, we are challenged to stretch our thinking, provide strong guidance and support, and enjoy the ride.

Name: Patti Haas
Title: Director, Activities Office and Bookstore
Institution: Thomas Jefferson University
Years in the profession: 6.5