More buildings are going up on the University of Wyoming campus, but some departments aren’t ready for the new space.
UW’s custodial service has about 100 positions responsible for keeping all academic and administrative buildings on campus clean and up to snuff.
However, recent budget reduction strategies are putting pressure on the department.
Since a hiring freeze began in October, 13 custodial positions have opened. Tod Scott, manager of custodial services, said approval to fill five positions was recently granted. Even with the new hires, some changes in service are being made.
“We work on a hierarchy of needs,” he said. “Snow removal is first, then sanitation like bathrooms and trash. Common areas like break rooms, study areas and stairways are next. Classrooms are next, and offices are last.”
With the new Michael B. Enzi STEM Building open and the completion of the High Bay Research Facility fast approaching, staff are already handling more space with fewer resources.
“There’s been some expanded service areas per custodian,” Scott said.
“Someone who was once responsible for one floor or one building might take on a second floor or now cleans one-and-a-half buildings.”
The entire Enzi STEM Building is cared for by one custodian and one building manager, Scott said.
UW Operations Executive Director John Davis said everyone is trying to pull together and help.
“People are working smarter and harder,” he said. “We have a great, great group.”
However, the custodial staff change fairly regularly — many are UW students working through college.
“What really hurt us was the retirement incentive program,” Scott said. “A lot of people who had been here for a while and were very productive left us.”
This is not the first time a staffing reduction has hit the custodial department, Davis said.
“So, we got our budget cut in 2009, and so our budget was cut 9 percent, and the campus has grown significantly since then,” he said.
The Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center, the Half Acre Gym addition, the Business Building, the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts and the Michael B. Enzi STEM Building have been completed since 2009. While positions have slowly been refilled since, the freeze has brought it back to the same position.
Custodial services weren’t the only service department affected. Before the budget crisis, two mechanics serviced the entirety of UW’s campus. Until recently, both employees left the university and the positions withheld.
One mechanic was eventually allowed to be hired.
“He’s doing great and will keep the university running,” Davis said.
No matter how hard employees are working, there are fewer employees with more space to keep clean.
“We are really scrambling to make sure we maintain services,” Davis said. “But, we want to assist the president at the same time.”
Scott explained a few of the services that could be affected in the future.
“If they continue to hold vacancies, we will just be able to provide less and less services,” he said.
“We might not be able to empty the trashes — people might need to take them out of their own offices. We wouldn’t be able to vacuum even once a week. We wouldn’t be able to do our project work like shampooing the carpets.
“We can’t do more with less,” Scott continued. “We do less with less.”