The University of Kansas has announced two Employees of the Month for July 2014:
Name: Larry Higgins
Start date: 1980s
Current job: Plumbing and boiler operations, Facilities Services
What that means: Larry Higgins ensures staff and students are supplied with heat and hot water, even when equipment fails. In addition to setting up, maintaining, trouble-shooting, and repairing boilers across campus, Higgins also sets up and monitors the chemical levels in the boiler systems to ensure the quality of the water in them. This helps save the university operating and maintenance costs. These efforts also have helped save the KU money in terms of major expenditures due to Higgins’ systematic efforts to extend the life of boiler systems well beyond their normal life expectancy.
Notable: When Facilities Services and Housing Maintenance merged in 2012, Higgins took on the daunting task of getting the KU Housing boiler systems up to the same operational levels as those in academic buildings on campus. In order to do this he had to design new chemical feed systems for all the steam boilers in these buildings. These systems were in poor condition, and now they are starting to clean up and run more efficiently. This took time and effort, and Higgins was deemed the only one on campus with the knowledge to accomplish this task. There are over 150 boilers on campus of different makes and ages, and Higgins has the ability to work on all of them.
Name: Natalie Parker
Start date: 2008
Title: Education program coordinator, Center for Research on Global Change
What that means: In her current role Parker provides management expertise for a major sponsored research initiative, the NSF IGERT C-CHANGE. This program engages more than 30 doctoral students, dozens of faculty across disciplines and institutions, and requires travel and site itineraries for large groups to remote places such as Greenland.
Notable: Parker’s management skills and adaptability have helped to contribute to the success of a KU-Haskell collaboration over the past five years. In organizing the annual summer Institute with Haskell, some new challenge will typically arise. These challenges range from figuring ways to manage special purchases for Institute participates, all the way to assuming responsibility for last-minute group travel arrangements. Additionally, Parker designed a system for coordinating teaching evaluations to enable students to evaluate instructors separately, making it so every department receives their faculty evaluations. Another challenge was the C-CHANGE website. Without being asked, Parker learned web site design and management in order to update and improve the site. As a related contribution she encouraged trainees to contribute travel blog entries to the site and trained others on how to use this feature.