March 15, 2004

Roads & Grounds maintains face of Emory

Senior Kelly Ruth is a work-study student at Emory Recycles.

Nestled downhill from the swell that is Fraternity Row, within the sprawling Facilities Management (FM) complex, is a single hallway of offices responsible for the external face of Emory: Roads and Grounds. The four shops that make up this department—roads, grounds, waste and pest control, and Emory Recycles—work to ensure Emory’s public “face” is aesthetically pleasing.

With approximately 11 miles of roads to maintain, the roads unit is responsible for daily upkeep of “all exterior hardscape on campus,” including every street, sidewalk, sign, bench, chain and pole. Mixed among Emory’s roads are the landscaped surfaces maintained by the grounds unit. From 68 acres of athletic-field fescue turf to 8,594 square feet of flowerbeds, the grounds crew is responsible for mowing, planting,
irrigating, mulching, fertilizing and pruning across campus.

In maintaining the face of Emory, Roads and Grounds also is responsible for processing the large amount of waste the University produces each day. Every outdoor trash receptacle is serviced by the waste unit, and what isn’t collected by the waste crew is removed by the fourth component of Roads and Grounds: Emory Recycles. Servicing the Clairmont, Braircliff, Wesley Woods, Oxford and main campuses, Emory Recycles collected more than 1.6 million pounds of recycled materials in 2003 alone, and the office has expanded its operations to collect even more (see story).

Roads and Grounds’ workforce of 45 is both diverse and cohesive, and is committed to a high level of performance. “We try to instill a sense of ownership within our staff,” said Roads and Grounds Superintendent Jimmy Powell, “which, in turn, increases the level of pride put forth in their respective areas.”

This attitude has been instrumental in the execution of special events at Emory. Each spring, Roads and Grounds shifts into high gear to prepare a “Commencement-ready” campus. The department’s efforts will next be under a high-profile microscope during Emory’s Inauguration Week celebration, March 29–April 2. But although special events at Emory call for particular attention to detail, practiced care goes into everyday upkeep of the campus.

The grounds division has received industry awards for seasonal color in its landscaping, an often underrated aspect of the University campus. More than simply making Emory pretty, the vibrant grounds also serve as a marketing tool in recruiting. As prospective students tour the campus each year, it is not always their guides’ figures and anecdotes that leave a lasting impression; the look of the University grounds can help sway students’ decisions on where to spend four years of their lives.

Beyond their call to sustain an attractive and functional campus, Roads and Grounds has responded to environmental issues. Use of chemical pesticides and herbicides has been significantly minimized in recent years, and thousands of native tree and shrub species—with few, if any, pest or disease problems—have been planted. And along with JoAn Chace, wife of former President Bill Chace, Powell founded Friends of Emory Forest, an organization committed to reforestation across the main campus and throughout Lullwater.