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Laying the groundwork ... literally

Meet some of the people who maximize the impact of the physical campus.

"The appearance of the campus, is, by far, the most influential characteristic during campus visits, and we gained the distinct impression that when it comes to recruiting students, the director of building and grounds may be more important than the academic dean." -- Dr. Ernest Boyer, former president of Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and United States Commissioner of Education

By 7 a.m. each morning, Monday through Friday, the college's physical plant staff is at work. They're the first ones on site for Commencement or Homecoming and often the last to leave after the cleanup in done. The college's 170-acre campus with academic buildings, residence halls, athletics facilities, dining areas, administrative offices, theaters, studios, a library, a wellness center and dozens of study and recreational spaces, needs almost constant care.

"It's clear how much pride our physical plant staff takes in making Wofford College comfortable and beautiful," says President Nayef Samhat. "First impressions matter, and we owe these keepers of our buildings and grounds a debt of gratitude for their work ethic, creativity, attention to detail and love of the Wofford community."

Mitch Humphries
Mitch Humphries

Humphries was waiting in the car for his aunt to finish a job interview at Wofford when he was called in for an interview of his own. He’s been at Wofford for 26 years and has worked his way up to administrative housekeeping supervisor. Humphries always has a smile and wave for faculty, staff, students and visitors. “I love it here because of the people,” he says.

Jimmie Tate
Jimmie Tate

One of the newer members of the staff, Tate has worked at Wofford just over a year. He spends his days watering and caring for plants, something he's used to doing after working with the Hub City Farmer's Market Urban Farm.

Ken Pettit
Ken Pettit

Pettit, the director of preventive maintenance at the college, also directs a summer work program for students. “I’m basically teaching work ethic,” he says. “I teach the students the importance of taking pride in what they’re doing, and that transfers to life in the classroom or football field or after graduation.” Pettit is also the college’s unofficial animal whisperer. A few years ago he rescued an injured hawk and recently found a new home for a peacock that had wandered onto the campus.

Ruben Ortiz
Ruben Ortiz

Ortiz came to the United States after graduating from high school in Puerto Rico. He’s been in the states 40 years and has worked at Wofford for 14. Depending on the season he has a weed eater or trimmer in his hands or is driving a truck or digging holes for new plantings. His co-workers love it when he makes enough Puerto Rican rice and beans for lunch to share.

Emanuel Burnside
Emanuel Burnside

Burnside has been running trash routes at Wofford for the past two years. He says he enjoys "keeping the college looking good." He particularly likes his job during the Panthers’ Training Camp. The Panthers are his team, and he takes great pride in contributing to their experience at Wofford each summer.

Galina Moshkun
Galina Moshkun

Moshkun arrived in New York from the Ukraine in 2002 in pursuit of religious freedom. Her grandfather died after being exiled to Siberia because the government found a Bible in his home. She and her husband, Boris, also a Wofford housekeeper, moved South because "Spartanburg is warmer," she says. They have five children and 21 grandchildren. Moshkun likes to read because she says it helps her learn English words.

Jeff Gist, Converse Draper, Shannon Shippy, Darryl Maybin and Rashawn Twitty
5 members of the physical plant staff

Most of the campus has Converse Draper on speed dial. He supervises the college's utility crew, which means he's part of planning, set up and clean up for all major college events — from Baccalaureate and Commencement to Homecoming.

Marty Kerr (supervisor), Tim Neal, Stephen Herbert, Scott Coggins and Nathan Dyer, a consultant with Control Management Inc.  
Marty Kerr and members of his staff

The maintenance of HVAC, elevators, emergency sprinklers and plumbing are the responsibilities of the college's mechanical crew. With the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts and the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium now up and running, the staff has spent necessary time this summer in training to familiarize themselves with the new systems.

Rob Richards and Bob Richards  
Bob and Rob Richards

The father-son team of Bob and Rob Richards is all about efficiency. Bob, as the college's on-site engineer, consults on all major building and construction projects. Rob, the energy sustainability manager, focuses on creating a more energy-efficient campus through the Milliken Sustainability Initiative at Wofford College. Farming and engineering are both in their blood, and they bring that work ethic and an emphasis on functionality as well as beauty to Wofford's campus. 

Clayton Rollins
Clayton Roberts

Rollins grew up on a farm, which means he can fix just about anything. He does small engine repair at Wofford as well as grounds work — maintaining irrigation, fertilizing, seeding. He is considering taking advantage of the college program that allows employees to take a class a semester for free as he works toward a degree.

David Friday  
David Friday

After graduating from the Charles Lea Center 33 years ago, Friday joined the grounds keeping staff at Wofford. He loves the camaraderie with his co-workers and takes great pride in collecting litter across campus. He also cleans the physical plant offices. When he's not on campus, Friday enjoys going dancing and to wrestling matches. 

Virginia (Washington) Brewton
Virginia Brewton

When Brewton came to Wofford 19 years ago, she didn’t expect to be at the college long. “The management and the people – the students and faculty in the building where I work and my co-workers in the Physical Plant – kept me coming back,” she says. Brewton, the president of evangelism at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, brings that encouraging spirit with her to work.

Ed Davis 
Ed Davis

Davis has worked with the college's multi-craft crew for more than six years. He's active in local military reenactment organizations, particularly for the Revolutionary War and War Between the States. He also collects World War II- and Vietnam War-era military vehicles. David even has talked with Wofford history classes, dressed in period attire, of course.

Rick Shehan
Rick Shehan

Shehan retired after 23 years of service in the U.S. Navy, went back to college to earn his degree before coming to Wofford as a groundkeeper. He became the office manager of the physical plant in August 2016. His military background is serving him well at Wofford. "Anyone can be a job starter he says, but to be a job finisher takes discipline." Jobs get finished with Shehan following up.

Shirley Alexander, Chris Carson and Olga Krayevski  
Shirley, Chris, and Olga

Alexander, Carson and Krayevski have spent most of their time lately cleaning up after construction crews and visitors to the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts. Alexander, a 23-year veteran at Wofford, is excited about the new building because of the upcoming plays, something she's enjoyed attending in the past. Carson has worked at Wofford for 21 years. He sometimes brings his nephews to basketball games and is looking forward to doing that in the new Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium this season. Krayevski was born in Israel, where she worked as an accountant. She's been at Wofford for nine years.

Juana Ramirez  
Juana Ramirez

Rusty, the provost's dog, barks when people come to the door, but not at Juana Ramirez, who cleans the house and is about to celebrate her sixth work anniversary at Wofford. "When I open the door, I say, 'Rusty, I'm here!' He doesn't bark at me. He's a good dog." Ramirez has tended to the housekeeping needs in Shipp, Lesesne and Greene halls and now works in DuPré Hall as well as in the homes of the president and provost. The mother of two teenagers, she's comfortable with her job and is good at it. "I do the same thing at home," she says.  

Tom Rocks and Bill Littlefield
Tom Rocks and Bill Littlefield

"This is where our hearts are," says Tom Rocks (left), director of the Physical Plant. For the past 27 years he has come to work at Wofford because he cares for the people and the place. Rocks and his wife, Patt, are accomplished dancers. They were extras in "Dirty Dancing" and have taught dance lessons across the Southeast, including a recent workshop for Wofford's Tri Deltas. Bill Littlefield, assistant director of the Physical Plant, joined Rocks at Wofford more than 16 years ago. Besides the hardhats and plans in his office, Littlefield also has photos of his two daughters. He's definitely a proud dad. Together Rocks and Littlefield have their minds, hands and hearts in all major construction projects, planned renovations and day-to-day maintenance on Wofford’s historic campus.

Johney Bonds
Johney Bonds

Bonds still loves driving a tractor and getting his hands dirty, but as grounds supervisor he rarely has the time these days. After more than 13 years at Wofford, he knows every square inch of the campus — from the parking lots and sprinkler systems to the sidewalks and flowerbeds. He's cleared ice and snow in the winter and cut his share of grass. Now he spends most of his days assigning projects, trouble shooting and answering questions. The campus has never looked better, and Bonds is quick to credit the crews who "make the magic happen. I'm just the conductor," he says.

Vasiliy Velit, Jeff Burney, Twanda Drummond and Vladimir Zmeyev
Jeff Burney and his crew

Jeff Burney (back row), residential housekeeping supervisor, first came to Wofford in 1998. Three years ago he was promoted to his current position, and strives to make sure his staff stays on top of preventative maintenance and student needs. His favorite days are the ones without "School Dude" work requests. "It means we're on top of it, that we're doing a good job." Watching Burney in action with residential housekeeping staff, it's clear that he genuinely cares about the people with whom he works.

Vladimir Zmeyev (far right) is quick to say just that. "Jeff is a very good supervisor. Wofford is a very good place to work. Everyday is a good day at Wofford College." Zmeyev has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Russia. He has two four-year degrees from Russian institutions and worked for 24 years as a train conductor before moving his family, including 11 children, to the states. At Wofford for two years, he spends most of his days working in the Michael S. Brown Village Center.

Vasiliy Velit (far left) works in DuPre and Wightman halls and has been at Wofford for six years. He also has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Russia. His coworkers brag about his skills as a cook and a gardener.

Twanda Drummond (center) has worked at Wofford for four years. Primarily assigned to Marsh and Carlisle halls, she, like everyone else on the physical plant staff, pitches in wherever she's needed, especially during the summers, when the Carolina Panthers and other campers are in the residence halls.

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89 and Mark Olencki ’75