Dirty Jobs: OKWU Edition

Trimming bushes.  Sweeping the sidewalks.  Directing traffic.  Changing light bulbs.  Treating the pond.  Hauling trash.  Scrubbing unidentified stains in Scott Hall.  These are just a few of the countless tasks performed daily at Oklahoma Wesleyan.  The members of the OKWU Buildings and Grounds crew, also known as B&G, are the unsung heroes of campus life.

The responsibilities of B&G are probably more extensive than most students imagine; these responsibilities include the maintenance of eighteen buildings and fourteen houses, totaling approximately 285,000 square feet and 160 acres. The grounds consist of the main campus, the athletic fields (baseball, soccer, and softball), off-campus housing, and the nature study.  They also manage, maintain, and repair the school’s seventeen vehicles.  In addition to the operations, maintenance, and repair of the existing facilities and vehicles, B&G is responsible for the planning, design, and construction management of new renovations and future facilities.

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How are all of these tasks accomplished in a timely and professional manner?  It is clear that the crew has no lack of extraordinary vision that dictates their actions.  Director Dalton Higgins describes the OKWU Buildings and Grounds Department mission statement as follows:

“The mission of the Buildings and Grounds Department is to serve the faculty, staff, and students by maintaining and improving the university’s facilities, grounds, and environment, and by efficiently and professionally responding to service requests.  Buildings and Grounds staff will create and maintain an environment conducive to the pursuit of the OKWU Mission.”

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And if there is one thing B&G has mastered, it’s service.  Behind the Mueller Sports Center lies the hub of Buildings and Grounds.  Upon entry into the office, a friendly face greets each person and fields all concerns.  This face belongs to Janet Odden, the coordinating heartbeat of B&G operations. Janet not only receives work requests from all over campus, issues the correct keys to OKWU students, staff, and faculty, and alerts the crew of new maintenance conundrums, but she also answers the inquiries of any and every person who happens to walk through the door.  Obstacles are Janet’s area of expertise: “The thing I like best about B&G is the problem solving aspects. People come to us with problems or needs and we have the opportunity to make those challenges disappear.  What a privilege it is to be a part of making this university run smoother, eliminating stress in the workplace, and bringing a bit of God’s peace and joy to our students and staff.”

“[The most memorable part has been] getting to know and working with the students, watching them complete their education, and then watching them succeed in life. It’s a great feeling to know that I played a part in that.”

-Terry Miller, B&G Operations Manager

Terry Miller, the Operations Manager of Buildings and Grounds, has been with the crew for nearly eight years now.  Eight years of service comes with plenty of experiences, some of which Terry probably wishes he could forget.  When asked about the most disgusting experience of his employment with B&G, Terry answered promptly: pulling hairballs out of the drains in the dormitory showers.  Not surprisingly, resident handyman Pat Martz replied identically: “Oh, probably the four foot string of hair we fished out of the Upper Wesley drains a couple years ago.”  Unfortunately (or fortunately, for those readers with an active gag reflex), Pat could not recover photographic evidence of the Upper Wesley shower muskrat, however, the OKWUeagle staff did manage to locate a slightly-less-impressive drain monster from North Phillippe.

Buildings and Grounds Hairball

How is this ever a worthwhile use of time?  What keeps these superheroes coming back for more?  Easy.  According to Terry, it’s all about serving students: “[The most memorable part has been] getting to know and working with the students, watching them complete their education, and then watching them succeed in life. It’s a great feeling to know that I played a part in that.”

And how does Pat cope with the ick factor when the hairballs haunt his dreams?  “Oh, it’s just part of the job!  I’ll tell you one thing though: plumbers do not bite their fingernails.  That’s it.  They just don’t.”  Indeed, they do not, Pat.  Indeed, they do not.

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