A red hat, brown slacks, brown shirt, and a box full of tools are all that stands between Wittenberg and cold, wet, dirty students. Physical Plant, the service that Wittenberg University works with to maintain campus grounds and buildings, has changed hands in some management positions and is more than determined than ever to help the university and its employees create a good experience for Wittenberg’s students.
Michael Brady took over the Assistant Vice President position at Physical Plant in September of 2013. Brady said that although an organization similar to the current Physical Plant and Wittenberg University have been working together for years, the purpose of Physical plant on Wittenberg’s campus has remained the same.
“Our goal is to fit seamlessly into the Wittenberg structure to support the students,” commented Brady.
While there have been rumors that the staff numbers on Physical Plant’s pay role have diminished, Brady has confirmed that those rumors are simply hearsay. With Physical Plant’s responsibilities and upcoming projects, the department needs as many people as possible to assist in the upkeep and rejuvenation of the university.
So what exactly does Physical Plant do on Wittenberg’s campus? Brady says that the staff members in the department are involved in every aspect of Wittenberg with the exception of housekeeping.
“Physical Plant works on the campus landscaping, we patch the roads, we were in charge of fixing the fountain, we take care of the garbage, we repair the plumbing and the electrical,” said Brady. “We ensure that the students have all the facilities necessary to enjoy their time at Witt in comfort.”
In addition to all these roles and responsibilities, Brady says that there are plenty more upcoming projects that the department will be taking part in around the university.
“Sustainability is necessary in today’s world,” said Brady. “Wittenberg’s sustainability has been a major project for us recently and it will continue to play a major role.”
Brady commented that Physical Plant has been working with the university to make some small changes already which students may not even be aware of. For example, the paper towels in the dorms and university buildings have been switched to the economy brand, making the switch a cheaper alternative for the university.
Other small, conscious efforts by Physical Plant to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly include mulching the grass clippings from mowing campus property back into the grass, finding the most cost effective and energy saving option for bathroom fixtures (a major source of energy loss on campus), and working with student organizations and staff to determine what the campus needs/wants for recycling and sustainability changes.
“I never see the role of Physical Plant shrinking in relation to Wittenberg University,” said Brady. “I can see it continuing to grow through technological advancements.”
Michael Brady has 25 total years of experience in working with campuses and departments similar to Wittenberg and Physical Plant in his resume and, though he has only been the Assistant Vice President for six months, his impact on Wittenberg’s campus has already begun to take effect.
“I am certainly old enough to be experienced with this job and the challenges, but I am also young enough to be able to implement changes,” laughed Brady.
Brady also said that in the immediate future, he is looking at buying the campus’s electricity from another source, and he is looking forward to Physical Plant’s role in the new athletic facility in the works.
“If there is one thing I know, it is that change is good in this job,” said Brady.
Some students have been concerned on campus about the role of Physical Plant in regards to student housing. For example, senior student resident Sheridan Abbott said that she and her housemates have asked Physical Plant repeatedly since August 1st of this school year for repairs to be made to their campus house and have yet to see any maintenance crew from the department sent to work on their residence.
Brady said that in terms of campus housing Physical Plant is in charge of all repair on campus houses, as well as all summer repairs and updates to houses as needed.
“Our role in campus housing is to make the residences hospitable for students and more like home,” commented Brady.
The Assistant Vice President also has invited all students to come to the Physical Plant offices on North Fountain Avenue to talk to the Physical Plant workers and staff.
“I think all students should know what all is going on on their campus,” said Brady. “I encourage all students to stop by and visit or just see what goes on behind the scenes.”