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Housekeepers Are Key Element in Campus’ 'Family' Culture

February 13, 2015

Housekeepers Commencement

Goodbye Wishes: Residence life housekeepers and maintenance staff support students from the first day they arrive on campus until their final processional on commencement day. (Photos by Shawn Spence)

A poignant scene symbolizing Rose-Hulman’s family atmosphere comes each commencement day when residence life staff members line up in front of Baur-Sames-Bogart residence hall to say their goodbyes to those graduating seniors they have proudly served during their college careers.

Not a year goes by when students don’t step away from the processional—their ceremonial final walk through campus as undergraduates—to give a housekeeper a hug or shake hands with a maintenance employee.

“It’s a sad day,” concedes Pat Fields, a housekeeper for more than 30 years who has received the President’s Outstanding Service Award. “You hope that you helped make Rose-Hulman feel like home during their time on campus.”

Those efforts haven’t gone unappreciated. Cards of thanks from students, parents, and alumni fill a bulletin board at housekeeper Sue Garry’s workroom in Percopo Residence Hall. Housekeepers are some of the first people alumni wish to reconnect with when returning to campus. Then, there’s the annual student survey that gives Rose-Hulman top marks nationally for the friendliness of the residence hall staff.

Housekeepers and maintenance supervisors do more than just change bed sheets weekly, vacuum floors, throw away room trash, and repair broken equipment. "They’re invaluable members of the student life staff," states Pete Gustafson, vice president for student affairs.

Housekeepers Group

Appreciated Group: Housekeepers and maintenance staff are valuable members of the student life staff, helping create the campus’ family-like atmosphere that earns high marks in student surveys.

“Interacting with students on a daily basis and helping keep residence hall rooms tidy are a key part of our ‘We Are Family’ residence-life experience,” he says. “Housekeeping is probably one of the top selling points among students living on campus.”

One student has remarked, “I have a feeling that if I left water, flour, and sugar on my dresser, there would be a cake in my room when I got back from class.”

Percopo Hall residents enjoyed freshly baked cookies during the most recent holiday season, compliments of housekeeper Barbara Kingery.

Substitute housekeeper Rosemary Reberger says, “The students are pampered here because they deserve it. They work so hard and they’re under so much pressure. I want to help, in any small way, to make their time here as relaxing and carefree as possible.”

Randy Stakeman, maintenance supervisor, adds, “You establish lifelong friendships with students. There are times when you have seen the students at their best, and at their worst. You take great pride in their accomplishments on campus, as students, and in life, as alumni.”