Q&A with Joe Bleehash: Keeping up with Maintenance
by: Eva Webber
Have you used the new Wi-Fi installed earlier this semester? Washed your clothes and bedding in new washers and dryers? Been redirected through Mt. Pleasant Road traffic as sewers, roads, and sidewalks are repaired? All of these amenities tie back to the Facilities Management department headed by Joe Bleehash, Director of Facilities & Operations.
Bleehash and his respective staff at Pitt-Greensburg work daily to oversee the resident halls, classrooms, buildings and grounds on campus, and are a constant contribution to the safety and cleanliness students enjoy. None of this is a single-person job, however. The wellness of any space relies on the cooperation, communication, and care from all those using it. Bleehash offers some insight to Facilities Management and their operation over the fall semester, indicating how students, faculty, and staff are linked in campus care.
Q: How has this semester been rewarding and/or challenging for you and your staff?
A: It’s always rewarding seeing students back on campus. We have a few unfilled positions, so we worked hard at keeping up with the grass cutting early in the semester, so we utilized anyone we could to help out. Now that we don’t have that, we’re just making sure we keep up with maintenance requests but it will take our entire maintenance staff to pitch in to get that done.
Q: How do you feel that you and your staff interact and communicate (as well as amongst themselves)? What about this would you like to keep or improve upon?
A: When it comes to communication, I believe there’s always room for improvement. Our maintenance supervisor, Pat Labuda, checks in with our folks around campus all day long to make sure they have what they need to keep things running. We have a separate custodial supervisor, Donna Myers, who takes care of the cleaners. We all carry radios that we use to communicate, so things can be addressed quickly. I’m all about efficiency, so I’m always analyzing what can be done to improve on that.
Q: In what ways do you and your staff members rely on one another?
A: There are so many moving parts, literally and figuratively, across campus that we all have to have our eyes open looking for things that might need addressed.
Q: What are some general standards for how your staff operate?
A: I believe that we are a service oriented department and the members of the campus community are our clients. I try to convey that philosophy to everyone in the department. During the school year, residence halls are a student’s home, so respecting their privacy while keeping things running and tidy is our priority.
Q: In what ways do you work with other university faculty and staff?
A: I personally work with faculty very little, aside from coordinating internal projects that might affect them. As far as staff goes, I interact with mostly every department across campus weekly if not daily. It’s my job to determine how capital money is spent and to oversee all of the construction projects on campus, so I coordinate with the folks who will be affected by that work. I also work directly with our Conferencing and Space Management Director, Sherra Moors ,and Mail Services Specialist, Paula Featherlin to make sure those components are functioning as well as possible.
Q: How can students, faculty, and other university staff help to support maintenance staff on campus?
A: The primary function of Facilities Management is to ensure buildings are functioning for their intended use. We get really bogged down by simple or personal requests that take away from our primary function, so anything that helps alleviate that extra work is always appreciated.
To contact the Facilities Management department for questions or to put in a maintenance request, you may do so online or call (412) 624-9512. For additional information, you may visit the Facilities Management section of the Pitt website.
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