Last evening, my former colleague and friend, Brad, shared with me an article regarding the new chancellor of The University of Missouri, Alexander Cartwright.
Brad, knew that I would have an appreciation for the fact that chancellor Cartwright had, at one time, worked as a custodian.
‘After growing up in the Bahamas, Cartwright’s first job in the United States was cleaning farm buildings and working second shifts as a factory custodian to afford community college.’ The Columbia Missourian
Brad, has heard me say…and write…many times, that there is untapped and often unsought… potential in the members of the housekeeping and Grounds and Service Community…at SIU.
During my years at SIU, I witnessed so many powerful ideas and acts that benefited the University, that came from members of the Building Services’ Staff…that I was compelled to speak to numerous chancellors and presidents regarding the untapped potential that was in their civil service community.
My colleague and friend, Bill V., wrote a monthly newsletter…that extolled the virtues of Southern Illinois University. His well thought out ideas were sought by both chancellors and presidents.
Joyce D. oversaw and taught a comprehensive training program for Building Services employees…that was the envy of the Universities’ Official Training Officer.
When Provost, John Dunn, needed members of the University Community to reach out to prospective students..he told me that no one responded in greater numbers than the civil service staff.
My friend, Elizabeth, began as my assistant in Building Services,…she is now the Vice President of the Civil Service Council and a vital aid to the Director of Plant and Service Operations. She is the consummate professional…and you would have to search for a long time to find anyone who loves Southern Illinois University more…or who is working harder for its’ success and renewal.
The custodial staff…the grounds workers…the food service staff…know of many changes and improvements…that can greatly enhance the recruitment and retention of our most precious citizens…our students.
My colleague and friend, Gerald, began a Thanksgiving Dinner that was loved by our over two hundred student custodial staff. This act of caring and appreciation for SIU students…went far in keeping them at the University.
Steve B., worked with us for several years, in Building Services, is now, and has been for some time, teaching English in Taiwan. He is also a master photographer.
Jonathon, my son, was so appreciated by the students that ate at Lentz Hall…during his time working for Food Service…that they created a Fan Club for him. He and I often walk on Campus, during his lunch hour, and it is the rare day that he does not stop…numerous times…to greet students…who know him…and are his friends.
Chancellor Don Beggs…sought my opinion and I was honored and humbled by his confidence.
I was asked by Chancellor Argersinger to assist in recruitment efforts during her tenure.
I was asked by Chancellor Wendler to be a part of the Southern @ 150 Committee.
I was asked, on numerous occasions, by President Glenn Poshard…my opinion regarding a plethora of University issues.
I have witnessed Building Services staff; bring nightly food for their student workers and invite them to their home for holidays and make certain that they had studied of an exam and be there for them…with a shoulder to cry on and encouragement for them.
When University leaders are searching for ideas to improve the SIU student experience and searching for members of the Community…that are passionate about their School…search no further…than the true career members of the University…the civil service staff.