Staff Spotlight: Alicia James

Alicia James is the new Business Specialist for the GSE in the Office of Administration and Personnel. James’ educational background is in the History of Art. In connection with her degree, James specialized in pre-Buddhist Tibetan art. After completing her Ph.D. coursework, Chicago was the first destination of her many travels.  There she found a job at Northwestern University, dealing with various aspects of business administration for three and a half years. In her current role, James assists the business office with matters pertaining to grants, special accounts, travel reimbursements, and various other tasks. “As a Business Specialist, my biggest responsibility is helping others. So when faculty go on trips and need to be reimbursed, or there are scholarships that need to go into an undergraduate account, my goal is to keep that running smoothly so they can go on with the business of learning and teaching.”


While she was looking for employment during the 2009 recession, “universities had a lot of different jobs available, so you can get into the temp pool. Eventually, I started advancing from the person on the phone, managing calendars, and ordering food, to taking care of financial matters such as purchase orders and payroll.” James discovered her strengths as a business administrator during this time, while also meeting her husband, who was a researcher at Northwestern. Shortly after meeting, James and her husband would both be offered jobs at Oregon State University, where James was a Pre-award Specialist. “This is when I started to learn how to do grant applications.” Her time at Oregon State didn’t last long, as she and her husband would eventually pack their things to find jobs in the Midwest or on the East coast.

Her experience at Oregon State University enhanced her skills as a reliable business specialist, but she continued to add to her resume by working within other education fields once they moved to New Jersey. “I was a volunteer at the Newark Museum since it took some time to find a job. Then I got the job in the Physics department as a temporary Business Assistant at Rutgers.” After this, James would apply to the GSE for the role of Business Specialist, continuing her long journey in the field of business administration. “I think my analytical skills allowed me to cross over from Art History to Business Administration. Part of being an art historian is that you have to know many languages so you can go and research original texts.” James, who studied Sanskrit and Classical Tibetan, says translation is similar to interpreting financial policy or university compliance guidelines. Her ability to find patterns and make sense of them creates the bridge between art history and university business administration, helping her to become a more successful business specialist.

James’ business skills help make faculty and students’ lives and their research become more seamless. “Working in business administration is good work and I know that I am helping to advance efforts in higher education. I believe higher education is very important, so that inspires me to get up and do the best job I can to advance the mission of the GSE and of higher education overall.”

James wants to make an impact within the GSE. “I hope that my contributions help to advance the overall mission of the GSE and also assist anyone that I encounter while in this role.”  James feels like she has found a new home with the GSE, calling it a great fit and a place she is happy to be. “I like working for Rutgers, so I wanted to find a permanent position. The GSE was my top choice since they were the most welcoming, friendly and organized group I have met in my Rutgers career.  Thankfully they offered me the job and it just so happened I liked them the most as well!”