Lisa Ferrell, Kent State University’s housekeeping manager, has been selected as a 2016 Manager of Distinction by Facility Cleaning Decisions magazine. This award is presented based on nominations from co-workers and managers for employees who go above and beyond their traditional job duties.

According to the magazine, nominees showcased exceptional management style or organizational achievements above and beyond job performance and contributed value to their facility and the profession as a whole.

In her role as housekeeping manager, Ferrell directs the staff and coordinates and plans all essential functions in the custodial department, which includes sanitation and sustainability.

Ferrell describes her position as creative management. She manages new forms of technology in the department, including cleaning equipment, and she is responsible for creating clear expectations for staff members and continuing education in the form of staff training.

Ferrell is responsible for managing five housekeeping supervisors, who each manage their own staff. One of the challenges of her position is handling such a large staff that is in charge of maintaining the entire campus.  

“At the end of the day, we have a lot of square footage,” Ferrell says. “We have about 4.5 million square feet, and right now, we have about 96 full-time custodial workers who are responsible for 68 buildings. When you break it down, that’s a lot of square footage on average per custodial worker. I always compare it to cleaning a 2,000-square-foot house. You don’t do everything every day in that 2,000-square-foot house, but you try.”

Ferrell says that even though the position can be challenging at times, the most rewarding part is working with people.

“We have a lot of people across campus who do recognize the custodial staff and do say thank you, and it’s not that they’re looking for the recognition or that it’s expected, but it’s just nice to hear every now and then that they’re doing a good job,” Ferrell says. “The encouragement that you give staff goes a long way. Let them know that they’re doing a good job or if they need to improve in an area, tell them that as well.”

In addition to her other responsibilities in her position, Ferrell also helps the custodial department to be more involved with sustainability on campus. She says they hold a couple of contests each year and try to encourage recycling on campus.

“We are moving toward making sure we have a trash bin and a recycling bin paired together,” Ferrell says. “That way, we are giving someone that obvious choice. With that choice, we are hoping that people across campus will make the right choice and learn more about which receptacle items can go in.”

Ferrell says that her recognition is a reflection of the hard work of the custodial department as a whole.

“In the custodial industry, you just don’t look for something like that,” Ferrell says. “It’s just because you enjoy doing the job. I think that we as a custodial department enjoy seeing what we accomplish at the end of the day, and I think that really we can get recognition. The custodial department as a whole does a phenomenal job and honestly, the recognition probably comes from how well they do.”

The custodial department performs daily cleaning of the academic, athletic and auxiliary buildings on campus over multiple shifts, according to the University Facilities Management’s website.

Some of the department’s responsibilities include trash and recycling removal, carpet and hard surface floor care, chalkboard and whiteboard cleaning, and restroom cleaning and sanitation. Staff members who work on campus and in residence halls are able to interact with students and assist with whatever they need.

“In residence halls, you see the interactions with students a bit more than you do on the academic side of campus,” Ferrell says. “We smile. We make sure that we’re pleasant. If someone’s lost, we give them directions if we can help out in any way.”

Overall, the custodial department is dedicated to providing excellent customer service to everyone on campus.

“Customer service is huge,” Ferrell says. “We are a customer-driven industry here in custodial. Our customers are everything, so you have to make sure that you’re out there, that you’re smiling and that you’re offering yourself up. We want to make sure that they know that if there’s anything we can do for them, we will try our best to do it.”


POSTED: Monday, November 7, 2016 09:54 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 08:04 PM