Wheels squeak and rattle as a cleaning cart passes over the floor tile. Occasionally, suds dripping from the windows fall on the freshly vacuumed carpet. Long before classes begin, while many students still sleep, desks are arranged, trashcans are emptied and the walls are even washed. The school is maintained – ready for another day.
As a branch of the Facilities Department, Maintenance and Custodial Services provides UVU with the behind-the-scenes work that keeps our campus well groomed and running smoothly.
As the university has grown it has taken on more custodial staff, comprised mostly of students working their way through school. UVU reports 60 full-time custodians, with an additional 120 part-time workers.
The custodians’ job includes taking care of every inch of the school’s two million square foot campus. The entire school’s upkeep is maintained daily, with groups working in “team cleaning units,” each assigned specific roles in different sectors of the university.
Custodial work has been Robert “Bob” Cheatham’s occupation starting around 1968, and he is currently the manager of custodial services at UVU. His career with UVU custodial services began in 1984 and he has been manager since 1992. Cheatham cited the size of the campus as the reason behind dividing the workload.
“It would be too much for someone to have even one job that covered the whole campus,” Cheatham said.
Not only are the UVU custodians effective in their work, they are also dedicated. Cheatham described one scenario when their numbers were down by 40 workers and yet they still got the job done. Cheatham recognized the fact that individual workers in his department don’t always get the thanks they deserve, but he did mention that President Holland has gone out of his way to continually acknowledge the actions of the custodians.
“Usually,” Cheatham said, “custodians are one the least appreciated and most underpaid workers.”
Maintenance issues across campus that fall under the department’s jurisdiction include cleaning, moving furniture, restroom upkeep and taking care of spills and accidents. Because custodians have to take care of all of these issues individually, their work orders are often backed up and it takes a while for them to get to every request. The Custodial Department, however, appreciates its interaction with the other departments and staff in their work.
Despite the hard tasks, Cheatham appreciates the bonds that he makes with the workers in his department. He has enjoyed several occasions where past student workers gave him a warm greeting even years after their employment. Even new students with parents who worked for Cheatham will say hello on behalf of their parents.
“The custodians’ job is to keep the school healthy,” Cheatham said. Part of this good health, Cheatham asserts, is communication. He keeps an open door policy with his department, welcoming anyone to address issues throughout the day.
By ERIC WOOD