“The Foundation of Life U”

Today we are doing a different type of Faces of LIFE. Normally, we highlight one person, but with Orientation and LIFE Vision Extravaganza this week, we have decided it is most fitting to highlight an entire department. This area is known as the quiet warriors of the Life University (Life U) campus. Who are they? Our Facilities and Grounds team members. Together, these two groups form the department known as Facilities Management. Under the direction of the new Director Collin Hilley, these team members are becoming more impactful than ever. The reason for that is Hilley’s philosophy of having passion and pride in everything they do, no matter how small that task may be. That “small task” culminates in a much larger purpose of serving all of those who live, work and play on the Life U campus.

Hilley is not just looking to the future but is learning from Life U’s past. He found several old Life U yearbooks and was impressed with what he saw. In particular, he loved the pictures of the facilities team in nice uniforms with smiles on their faces. For Hilley, that said they loved what they did and showed pride in their work.

“As we focus to the future, I think that it is important that we look to the past. […] I’ve been looking into uniforms for my Grounds people. I’ve been looking into getting them new work boots – different style work boots. I am trying to empower them to understand that this is more than just cutting grass, raking leaves and leaf blowing. This is a career; this is a lifestyle choice, and people make decisions with their eyes.”

When people decide whether or not they want to attend an institution, their first impression is visual. If they come to a campus and see beautiful flower beds, well-maintained buildings, a clean campus and gorgeous landscaping, they will be drawn to the institution in terms of its visual appearance. It is alluring to these potential students and their parents. However, if a potential student and their family arrive on campus and see weeds, wilted flowers and brown spots in the lawn and litter on the ground, they will most likely be turned off even if the academic side is excellent.

“People still make decisions with their eyes, so I want to instill that in my Grounds people that there is purpose in what we do. When the grounds are nicely and freshly cut, there is just something about that. You’re lying on a blanket, you’re reading a good book, it’s great and everybody loves to be outside. We have such a beautiful topography here at Life U; why wouldn’t we capitalize on that?”

Hilley sees his role as inspiring his team to understand that there is a purpose for each thing they do.

“We are going to do [each assignment] with purpose. And even as granularly as potting soil … it doesn’t matter; there has to be purpose behind why you are plotting that soil. Are you planting a rose garden? Are you doing a flower bed in front of SHS? What are we doing with that soil? I want to get very granular even at the landscaping level with them. They are perfectly capable of driving that.”

Hilley shared the pictures that go along with this article to showcase his team and the great work they continually accomplish. He believes in praising his team. “Coach in private; praise in public,” is Hilley’s motto. Grounds and Facilities have been working together on their strategy and teamwork. This department of nine facilities crew and five grounds crew are working together in a synchronized fashion to complete the work that is needed quickly and effectively. They have each other’s backs and work together as one team to produce amazing results.

This week, these quiet warriors are managing daily responsibilities and two major events: Fall Quarter Orientation and LIFE Vision Extravaganza. There is plenty of work to be shared by both areas. The Facilities team will manage all electrical and lighting needs for both events, which involve several special events and a vendor hall. They will also take care of any daily needs by other departments and make sure that the dorms are ready for move-in. The five Grounds team members will be handling the set up for everything Orientation and LIFE Vision Extravaganza, which includes the staging and seating for the Plenary Session and Orientation in both the upper and lower gyms. They will also be setting up the Lasting Purpose Luncheon and making sure that all the classrooms and all the other special events are set up, and there are several. Some of these events even run simultaneously, such as the Black Alumni Reception and the Athletics Festival, to both begin on Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. That is quite a mound of work for fourteen people, so if you see any of them on campus this week, please be sure to give them a “Thank You.”

Some pre-LIFE Vision Extravaganza work was recently completed. The erosion at the pond was fixed. The pond was excavated and cleaned, and a new wall and fence were built.

“Our pond is going to pop when it comes to LIFE Vision Extravaganza, so I am really excited about it,” said Hilley.

Events are not the only thing on this team’s agenda. One major project right now is replacing the roof and all the damage that was done to the Center for Health and Optimum Performance (C-HOP) building in a recent storm. One hundred per hour winds blew in and blew half the roof off C-HOP. Hilley is diligently working with the insurance company and others involved to have all the repairs made. This project will most likely take six months to complete. He had a new temporary roof designed by a structural engineer, and that has just been added. Hilley also speaks daily with the brokerage and insurance company to see that this project is completed and that the company covers the costs that they are supposed to.

One of Hilley’s first major assignments when he started at Life U in March was to complete a thorough assessment of all the buildings on campus to determine what work needs to happen within the next year and the next five years. He found multiple projects need to be completed in the Life Village Retreat (LVR), and the Guy F. Riekeman, D.C. Center for Chiropractic Education (RCCE) building will be getting a new roof. Currently, there is also construction happening in the William M. Harris Center for Clinical Education. Hilley’s message to the Life U Community is simple, yet profound.

“We are doing things with integrity, with passion. I want my guys to be passionate about everything that hits our decks. We are going to put everything under the lens; we are going to think outside of the box; we are going to be collaborative. We are going to be a team, and we’re going to grow.”