Craig Thompson is the Sodexo general manager and is responsible for day-to-day operations of the Kelley Commons cafeteria. Craig spent the summertime on campus seven days a week, running everything by himself, so that his cafeteria employees could stay home. One of his biggest priorities was to make sure that his staff members were safe and healthy. He had to figure out how to maintain COVID-19 guidelines in the cafeteria before the fall semester started. Craig’s dedication this past year has given students the chance to eat a good meal while continuing their education.
Classrooms in Folsom and Pullen Hall look a little different. Facilities spent the summer break reconfiguring the classrooms so that they could be safer for students. Some desks and chairs in the classrooms have been rearranged or taken away to encourage social distancing. Wet wipes are available for students as they walk into class so that they can wipe down their area.
Students living in the university’s dormitories have also dealt with some changes. Students must wear their face masks at all times, unless they are in their own rooms, brushing their teeth or taking a shower. Jeff Stevens, a facilities employee, has been working hard keeping the dorms clean. He cleans and disinfects the residence hall bathrooms, hallways and stairs. Public safety has never been more important, and Jeff makes sure the students are healthy in the dorms.
“I love the students. There is no other place I would want to work here than in the dorms. They are the reason myself and my coworkers have jobs,” Jeff said.
Sarah Coyer and Fred Thomas have been in charge of the COVID-19 testing on campus. Sarah is the associate dean of students at UMPI. She supervises several departments and when the safety and health of students became a priority due to the pandemic, Sarah took on another role as the testing coordinator for COVID-19. For the last two semesters, Fred has set up COVID-19 testing dates and times for students, faculty and staff. He also secures and oversees areas on campus being used as isolation and quarantine spaces, in case of an outbreak. Between the two of them, they have successfully kept UMPI safe and healthy.
“Every day is an adventure and we have learned to adapt and overcome as the challenges present themselves,” Fred said. “We are very fortunate that the administration both on our campus and at the University System level recognized very early on the need to put certain protocols and procedures in place.”
Roger Getz has also contributed to UMPI’s success through his work in the library. As the director of library services in the Center for Innovative Learning, Roger was in charge of making some of the drastic changes to the appearance of the building. The building is only allowing one person per table. The third floor is closed to prevent unnecessary traffic. Tutoring and the Writing Center are working remotely. The CIL is a very popular place on campus for UMPI students and Roger knew the importance of keeping it open. Although it came with many changes, the library is open and available for students due to Roger’s work.
Dick Gardiner, Keli Marston and Donna Underwood of Gentile Hall have also done some work this past year in the university’s wellness center. To keep the public safe, Gentile Hall is currently open only for students, faculty and staff members. The pool and rock wall are closed. Some cardio machines were moved downstairs to the gym to allow more space upstairs. Making these decisions was very difficult for Dick, Keli and Donna, but without their leadership, Gentile might have never opened back up.
Everyone on UMPI’s campus has played a role in the university’s success. This pandemic has not been good to the educational system and colleges around the country have struggled. There are not many universities that are holding live classes and UMPI was able to open its doors to students in the fall. Faculty and staff members across campus have demonstrated selflessness and heroism these last months. The UMPI community would not be where it is now if it weren’t for the people running the university. Every UMPI student and member of the community should be thankful for the university and the employees who run it.