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October 2003 STAR of the Month

Photo of James Cassin

The SFSU campus provides some serious challenges for lead groundskeeper James Cassin, the October STAR of the Month. When he's planning the campus flowerbeds, he has to take into account that the planting and growing seasons here in the fog belt aren't the standard four-seasons -- instead there are three springs, a mini-summer, and a little bit of winter each year.

The fog belt also limits Cassin's plant choices. Plants that thrive under the hot East Bay sun don't do so well here.

Finally, he must take all these factors into consideration and still try to make sure that plants are blooming and look their best in sync with the high points of the academic year -- especially the first day of classes and Commencement.

It's an intricate rhythm, but one he enjoys, and that's why he shut down his own landscape business 14 years ago to take the SFSU position. He was tired of simply maintaining yards and grounds and wanted to also perform bed design work, especially at a small, self-contained location.

"I like the variety of the job -- that you're doing real stuff with the landscape," Cassin said. "And we have a good crew of people who take a lot of pride in their work and work hard."

His job change has been successful, as anyone who takes notice of the campus can see.

"Jim has been an outstanding contributor to the beauty of the campus landscape," said Phil Evans, director of campus grounds. "He has a tremendous range of experience in the field and plays an important role in managing technical aspects of horticultural care. Jim is a key part of a highly professional team of gardeners and arborists, and we are very pleased that he has been honored in this way."

Cassin also makes sure that plants are pruned and watered correctly, and that weeds and pests are controlled. But it's the design he enjoys most, and he's always looking for plants that will work in the campus setting.

"You have your favorites, your reliables, but you also need to stay current and mix in new things," he said. "Sometimes it's hard -- it's like writer's block, so you need to look for new ideas."

Cassin, who holds a degree in public administration from SFSU, was born and raised in San Francisco. He lives in Daly City. He swims daily and likes to squeeze in a few rounds of golf when he can.

Please join us in congratulating James and thank him for making such a difference.

As the STAR of the Month, Cassin will enjoy four free lunches on campus, a free parking pass or equivalent in one month's public transportation costs, and more. He will also be eligible for the STAR of the Year award.

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Last modified October 31, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs