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Updated 9:00 AM June 21, 2006




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Spotlight: It's cleanup time for residence hall supervisor

Sally Gonzales has seen everything, from flooding caused by rambunctious students to clothes with original sales tags discarded at move-out, as she tends to 1,200 undergraduates at South Quad.
(Photo by Scott Galvin, U-M Photo Services)

"We've had a few floods caused by residents playing ball and hitting a sprinkler head, causing major damage," says Gonzales, the South Quad building/facilities supervisor, who since the move-out in April has been overseeing the annual cleanup before summer campers begin arriving this week.

But she says what really stands out in 14 years on the job is how her 28 staff members are able to pull off student move-ins during the fall and move-outs in spring, for a hall with more than 600 rooms. "My passion for the job is definitely during move-out and move-in, how everyone takes a part making it happen, how they can accomplish so much in so little time," she says.

Departing students leave some valuable items. "It's amazing the things they throw out—TV's, stereos, clothes with tags on them," Gonzales says. The move-out can be emotional for staff members who've grown to know residents. "They'll shed their tears saying bye for the summer," she adds.

Since the recent move-out she has been overseeing the "deep cleaning" of rooms, which staff—in respect of student privacy—haven't seen since fall move-in. "We've got so many projects going on. This is the only time we can deep clean all our rooms from top to bottom. We clean all the furniture, make sure the mattresses are clean, painting is done; maintenance crews go through and repair anything that is broken—lights, sinks, electrical, plumbing. We clean public area lounges, basically everything. As managers we inspect all the rooms to make sure all these things are done."

Spring also is the time to seek feedback from custodians, mechanics, housing designers and area maintenance coordinators before submitting a wish list of repair and renewal upgrades for the building. Some building renewal work already is planned for this summer, including the second phase of a carpet replacement project—phase one was completed last year—and an elevator upgrade. "Basically we're replacing the whole guts of the elevators. They're overused and abused," Gonzales says. Repairs and upgrades generally are completed before summer camp attendees arrive in June.

Gonzales was hired by the University in 1985. She was a custodian for five years at Mary Markley Hall. Three of those five summers she applied for the Employees Working out of Classification (EWOC) program, and was hired as a facilities manager in 1990 at the Executive Residence. She transferred to South Quad in 1992. "We are in charge of providing a comfortable, safe and clean building," Gonzales says. "Our goal is to offer an awesome living, learning and leisure environment for all our residents and staff."

Gonzales learned from her aunt Mary Lou Madrigal, who had been facilities manager at Stockwell Hall for more than 30 years. "She talked about how the value of the friendship is very important, but there's always that fine line about when to be a boss or to be a friend," Gonzales recalls. "I've realized through the years that things like machines can be fixed, a burned out light can be changed, a building can be cleaned, materials can be bought, but there's nothing like being a part of building and encouraging people and caring about people, recognizing a job well done and building special relationships." Gonzales has several other family members who work for U-M.

In addition to cleaning and repair, Gonzales and her staff are responsible for waste handling, recycling, pest control, ordering, staff training and development. "Our staff takes great pride in completing fix-it requests within a 24-hour period," Gonzales says. "We also have a very caring and compassionate staff. At the end of the school year, when the goodbyes take place between residents and our staff, it's the appreciative thank you note, or a special gift, or a hug, and tears that come from friendships that have developed through the school year."

South Quad was built in 1951. Gonzales says in her time managing the facility, improvements have included electrical upgrades, state of the art fire suppression and alarm installation, total carpet replacement in the hallways, drapery replacement, building block furniture installed in all rooms, lighting projects, window replacement, and lounge renewals from carpet to furniture.

"Our ninth floor used to be a furniture storage room, that has been renewed as a computer site and study space for residents," she says. Gonzales also oversees nearby Fletcher Hall, built in 1922, which holds 90 residents.

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