Campus Services Staff Honored for Behind-the-Scenes Efforts
With the volume lowered on their holster radios, dozens of Campus Services staff members listened intently as their director, Terry Harding, addressed them Friday at the Campus Services Employee Recognition Awards ceremony. Five workers were honored this year for outstanding service, but all eyes looked on with pride as Harding proclaimed, “When you honor one of us, you celebrate all of us.”
The more than 120 full-time employees view their roles as providers of customer service rather than cleaners or maintenance workers. They know they are sometimes referred to as “invisible” or “behind the scenes” workers, recognized more often when something goes wrong than right. But given the extensive duties handled by the department, the workers’ low profile is a testament to their proficiency. Harding says fewer requests and complaints from campus infer that the Campus Services staff is doing its job well.
Campus Services personnel maintain Buffalo State’s 45 buildings and 125-acre campus. Their myriad responsibilities include heating and cooling, carpentry, custodial, electrical, plumbing, masonry, painting, and snow removal. They provide the campus’s mail, moving, and locksmith services; inventory control; and central receiving for all equipment and supplies received through purchase orders.
Campus Services also manages Central Stores, which houses and delivers stationery that bears the college’s name, such as envelopes and letterhead. It includes the Copy Center, the campus’s print shop for faculty and staff. Additionally, Campus Services manages the college’s power plant and maintains the Maud Gordon Holmes Arboretum, which Harding calls a “living classroom” of about 1,700 trees on campus, comprising more than 100 species. He said, unfortunately, many trees are still suffering the devastating effects of the October 2006 snow storm, and he continues to press for additional state funding for restoration.
Harding is quick to point out that his staff members approach their work with the same energy and enthusiasm every day.
“I’m most impressed with people who do the most rudimentary tasks on a cyclical basis and continue to exceed customer expectations,” he said.
Of the more than 120 staff members, about half provide custodial services, and most of those employees work at night along with building maintenance workers. Otherwise, much of the Campus Services staff works during the day.
When Harding became director in 1995, he changed the department’s long-standing name from Physical Plant or Maintenance (in place since 1948) to Campus Services. “I wanted our name to sound more global and focused on customer service,” he said.
Since 2003, Horace “Hank” Mann, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of exceptional education, has funded the Campus Services Employee Recognition Awards to recognize and reward outstanding staff members. Friday marked the sixth annual ceremony, and Mann was present with Albert Howard, husband of President Muriel Howard, delivering a plaque and a $200 check to each of the recipients:
- David Dachauer, Grounds
- Luanne Jarosz, Custodial Services
- Delmar Partridge, Heating and Cooling
- Anthony Pastore Jr., Plumbing
- Theresa Tobin, Custodial Services
“The employees take the awards very seriously,” said Harding. “It’s a real sense of pride for them, and they’re excited each year to see who’s honored. They really love that Dr. Mann does this for them.”
Harding takes the awards seriously, too. During the nearly two-hour ceremony, he interviewed each recipient for about 20 minutes to share life experiences with attendees.
“I’m proud to have the opportunity to serve in the capacities we do,” said Harding. “We want to exceed expectations, not just meet demands. Certainly, if anyone feels any dissatisfaction or concern with regard to any area we tackle, I really encourage them to tell us—rather than wait until something becomes a bigger problem.”
Rest assured: should any maintenance problems occur, “invisible” staff members will be quick to appear.