Our Work is Never Done
Summer is the busiest time of year for many university employees, as they spruce up the campus, review applications and do other work that can't be done while students are back in school.
ST. LOUIS - After the last final is taken, the last grade posted and the last student heads home for the summer, popular opinion states that faculty leaves for a three month vacation and all the employees hold daily pool parties for the next 12 weeks until the next group of students arrive.
If that only were true.
Summer is among the busiest time of year for many employees in higher ed. At Webster University's Webster Groves campus, crews have been busy this summer working long days, weekends and holidays repairing and prepping the campus to make sure it is in pristine condition when school starts in the fall.
“I always chuckle when my friends and relatives tell me if I'm relieved that the students will be gone for the summer, because then I'll be able to take some time off,” said Gil Morales, facilities operations manager at Webster University. “We do our most difficult and labor-intensive work when the students are gone so that we can minimize the interruptions when they are here.”
For example, some of the walls and stairwells in Sverdrup Hall on the University's Webster Groves campus needed repainting. Doing such a project during the school year would require those areas to be closed off for safety reasons, making it difficult for students to get to classes or meet with professors. Instead, that project was completed this summer when the halls were mostly devoid of students.
Other projects completed or currently ongoing at Webster's home campus since the last day of class include:
- Building an outdoor lounge area on the west side of the Visual Arts Studio
- Painting the old wall on Edgar Road and the nearby Carriage House and detached garage
- Repairing the brick wall around Pearson House
- Removing bushes that had obstructed the view from inside the University Center
- Planting new shrubs in the area
- Removing the rock along the ramp of the west entrance to the University Center and landscaping the area
- Planting new groundcover on the lawn in front of Webster Hall
- Landscaping the area around the picnic benches at the corner of Edgar Road and Big Bend Boulevard
- Painting the Physical Plant building
- Repairing the porch, foundation and handicap accessible ramp at the Counseling and Student Health Services building
- Repaving and restriping parking lots J and K
- Making repairs to the Mary Ann Lee Plaza
Besides these major projects, other more routine projects also have been happening, such as replacing burned-out light bulbs in residential halls, classrooms and offices, laying down mulch, replacing diseased or dying plants or touching up different areas of the campus.
Since mid-May, works crews have:
- used an estimated quantity of 210 gallons of paint and 2300 man-hours to apply it
- replaced approximately 3500 light bulbs throughout campus
- applied approximately 300 yards of mulch
- spread 20 tons of gravel
- planted approximately 2500 new plants
- poured an estimated 50 yards of concrete
- spread approximately 5600 square yards of asphalt
Because there is so much work to do and such limited time, many crews work weekends and holidays through the summer. Had students visited campus on the Fourth of July, they may have been surprised to find a painting crew on campus, painting the window sills on the west side of Webster Hall.
While most would agree that the physical plant crews probably have the hardest work to accomplish during the summer, they aren't the only ones who are busy. This is the time of year that most of the employees work on “long-term projects,” such as updating policies, re-writing content on web sites, and setting schedules for the next 12 months. Many professors take the time to work on research projects that they wouldn't have time to work on during the regular school year while team members in admissions and financial aid are actively reviewing applications for admission and financial aid and scholarship requests.
“Summer is an especially exciting time for the enrollment management team as we continue recruiting and at the same time collaborating with the schools and colleges to not only prepare for new students, but to also welcome returning students,” said Robert Parrent, chief enrollment officer at Webster. “Our goal is to provide an exceptional experience for every student. The entire enrollment management team goes the extra mile to ensure a seamless transition for students from the initial point of contact to arrival on campus. It's all about leading through learning and we want every student to understand what it means to ‘be a part of what's next.' That is what makes enrollment management a global initiative ; enrollment management is an area that never sleeps.”
Applications are still being accepted at Webster University for the fall term. For more information, visit http://webster.edu/admissions/.