Meet Joe Ellis, office manager for the Department of Biology

A native of upstate New York, Ellis has embraced the Richmond lifestyle.
Joe Ellis standing in a crowd of people wearing a racing medal

If you happen upon the Department of Biology, chances are the first face you’ll see is Joe Ellis, office manager. Joe joined the department in 2021 after fleeing the cold weather of his hometown in upstate New York. These days, he loves living in Richmond and gets joy from helping the faculty and students who walk through biology’s front doors.

Joe is currently completing his master’s at VCU in educational leadership; he currently holds a bachelor's in political science with a public relations minor from SUNY Plattsburgh.

What do you do for the Department of Biology?

I have a hard time describing my responsibilities. My official title is office manager of the Department of Biology. Throughout my day, I do an array of different tasks, such as advising students, working with faculty, acting as an assistant to the chair of the department or working with the communications committee. Basically, if you call the department, I am the first person you will speak with.

Joe Ellis kissing a white dog

Do you like running the department's social media accounts?

I took over the social media accounts a few months into the job. The accounts weren't doing too well, and I believed I was creative enough to improve the social pages. It is one of my favorite tasks. I get to engage with students in many different ways and make a digital footprint for the department. It is fun going around campus. I feel more engaged with the student body and coworkers.

What is your favorite part about your job?

I like being able to help students, whether it's answering a question or getting them into a class they need or want. I enjoy making a difference, really. That makes me happy and grateful.

If you had to change careers, what would you do?

I would be a professional golfer. I like to play golf, work out, go to VCU basketball games and eat in my free time. I would be a professional cook, too, but that is not as stable. I am a big foodie and genuinely enjoy cooking. Whether I cook it myself or go to one of the many restaurants around Richmond, I enjoy trying new foods!

Joe Ellis standing beside his girlfriend, Grace

Do you have any family in VA with you?

Most of my family is still up north. I live here in Richmond with my girlfriend, Grace, and the love of my life, Fiona, my Maltese furbaby. I first moved to VA for my girlfriend; she became a high school English teacher, and I wanted to be close to her and enjoy the warmer weather.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I am just a normal person. I love cooking. I always try to do my best, and I hope that shows in my work. I am really grateful to be at VCU for two years as an employee and a student. Richmond and VCU have the most diverse communities in terms of people and thought. Everything about VCU is different; it has totally changed my mindset and approach to life. This community has been my second family, my home away from home.

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