The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Day in the life of Washington and Lee’s facilities and grounds workers

In our “Day in the Life” series, reporters take a look behind the scenes of the most important, yet overlooked, jobs at W&L
Julianna Stephenson
Timmy Hill vacuums the rugs at the Tennis Center at 6 a.m.

It is still pitch black outside and most students are sleeping. The clock has just hit 6 a.m., but Timmy Hill, a university grounds worker, has already been at the Duchossois Tennis Center for an hour.

Next to the tennis center, HVAC Supervisor Ken Mohler and Head Mechanic Cody Lunsford have just begun their day. But there’s truly no time off for the team that works together to keep Washington and Lee’s buildings and property maintained.

“I’m on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mohler said. “I’ll get a call at one, two, or three o’clock in the morning.”

Close to 100 facilities and grounds employees help the university run smoothly but are hardly ever seen by students – partly because the University Facilities building is tucked between the third-year parking lot and the tennis center.

Lunsford, who helps to maintain the university’s 230 vehicles and does most of the university’s welding, said every day of work is completely different.

“I could be hanging on the side of a building welding stuff up for an air conditioner handler, or I could be in here just changing oil and brakes,” Lunsford said.

Mohler said his day depends on the major heating, ventilation and air conditioning projects going on around campus and students’ work orders. He comes in at 6 a.m. to check his emails, plan out his day and assign other workers on the HVAC team to tasks.

The HVAC team also completes large projects that would normally require an outside contractor. During the summer of 2023, for example, the team went through each of the fraternity houses and replaced the house mothers’ apartments’ air conditioning units.

If they had hired a contractor, this project would have cost $10,000 to $12,000, Mohler said. But the HVAC team cut the costs in half.

The HVAC team often helps with plumbing as well, Mohler said.

“You have the day-to-day tasks that you were hired to do, but everybody helps everybody,” Mohler said.

Hill, a grounds worker, is mostly in charge of taking care of the indoor and outdoor tennis courts.

He starts his day at the tennis center vacuuming the rugs, checking the bathrooms and cleaning the courts. Hill then goes outside to do various outdoor jobs, such as weeding, blowing off the outdoor tennis courts or helping other teams on their projects.

Facilities and grounds employees agree that they enjoy working for the university.

“You’re not going to find a finer place to work,” Mohler said. “The way you get treated… it’s awesome, and it’s an awesome bunch of people to work with, too.”

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