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Thursday, March 30, 2023


Keeping the grass greener on the UH side

Most students have never talked to Doris Bermudez, but she helps to make UH’s campus beautiful every day.

Bermudez, a janitor at Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, is one of 160 people employed as janitorial staff on campus. One hundred thirty-four of those are custodians, 21 are groundskeepers, two are grounds supervisors and three are employed specifically for servicing Wortham Theatre.

“I clean here so that the students can have a comfortable environment,” Bermudez said.

“I like speaking with the students and seeing how they are. We don’t talk that much, but I like knowing about students’ lives.”

With approximately $811,000 allocated to grounds keeping by Facilities Management each year — which amounts to around $10 per semester for each student — some are beginning to take notice.

“I applied to several schools around the country, most of them in bigger metropolitan areas, and most schools don’t pay as much attention to green space as UH does,” said vocal performance junior Anna Montgomery. “I find this campus very aesthetically pleasing.”

A part of students’ tuition goes directly to maintenance and grounds keeping, but Facilities Management receives funding via three routes: state-appropriated funds, local tuition and payments rendered by departments because of unnecessary services, such as events or extra copies of keys.

State-appropriated funds pay for most salaries, as well as the budgets for automobiles and program management. Local tuition covers material expenses for maintenance, including parts, filters and contracted services like pest control or custodial work.

“Facilities Management is charged with the responsibility of maintaining all campus buildings, infrastructure and grounds,” said Director of Business Services for Plant Operations Georgeann Smith.

As with many organizations, the most visible part of Facilities Management is the people, especially the custodial and grounds-keeping staff. As difficult as cleaning up after students may seem, these custodians take pride in making the campus a place for students to keep learning.

Rosa Morales, a janitor for Wortham Theatre, likes her position because it brings her closer to art and theatre. She has been employed by the University for 12 years, and has held her post in the Wortham for 6.

“I like all of my job. I enjoy doing the cleaning,” Morales said. “I don’t speak with the students, but most of them wave hello to me. Everyone is really friendly.”

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