If there ever was an invisible fix-it machine, WPI’s Department of Facilities fits the bill. Working its magic quietly around campus, employees in the department keep the campus functioning no matter what is thrown their way.
One of the most recent members of the Department of Facilities is Theresa (Tessa) Mailloux, who joined the team in November as the customer service coordinator. Mailloux brings years of experience and a love of hard work gained from her Marine training and 20 years as a night supervisor and dock supervisor at Roadway Express (now YRC Freight) to help the office run efficiently.
“We keep the campus running,” says Mailloux of the nearly 100-person department. “People don’t realize the lights are on, the toilets are clean, and the trash is emptied because of Facilities. We do a lot behind the scenes.”
According to Bill Spratt, director of facilities operations, the department processes about 12,000 work orders annually, so the facilities office at 37 Lee Street hums with constant activity. The department recently debuted a new work order system (School Dude), which Mailloux oversees and which aims to keep work orders progressing and getting attention. Mailloux says one of her specific talents is the follow-up she puts into each work order to make sure it’s complete and that her customers are happy.
“Being organized makes this all flow,” she says. “I work closely with Roger Griffin, who is the manager of Facilities Trades Services and the associate director of Mechanical Services. I would not be successful without the cooperation and guidance from the entire facilities department.”
What exactly is a work order? When there’s a problem on campus, Facilities finds out about it and then sets out to get it fixed. “That means work requests that go to electricians, plumbers, carpenters, custodians, groundskeepers, locksmiths, and painters,” says Mailloux, naming only a handful of the trades represented on campus. Some of them are WPI employees, but she occasionally has to call someone who specializes in a trade WPI doesn’t have on staff (a roofer, for example). Then, she notes, there are emails to be followed up on, checking on work orders to be submitted or ones in progress.
Mailloux says with such a big university, things happen all day long that need attention from Facilities. Her goal is to “let people on campus who they can go to when there’s a problem.”
“We’re for anything that is beyond safety and security which is what campus police does,” she says. What Facilities does is extensive. There are all the normal day-to-day things that need attention—events to prep for, grounds to be kept clean, or sinks and toilets that need attention. Then there are the other tasks that routinely crop up—students get locked in and out of rooms, or a faculty member can’t open a locked desk drawer. Sometimes the card access to a lab might fail or a power breaker might trip, causing a power outage that needs immediate attention.
Frequently, Facilities manages multiple pressing work orders along with event preparation, so there’s lots of hustle and juggling in the department. Mailloux says that sometimes customers don’t realize their work order might be on a list, and that it will get attention as soon as possible.
To report a problem, students generally should notify an RA who has access to School Dude. Faculty and staff should notify a department administrator who can also submit a work order, says Mailloux. And if you just don’t know where to go or who to notify, she says a quick call to the Facilities office at 508-831-5500 will get the work order in motion. Customer service hours are 7am to 5pm, but there are always personnel on call after hours for emergencies.
“We’re a big department and people don’t always realize that,” says Mailloux. “There’s a lot of us who work together to get all that done.”
BY JULIA QUINN-SZCESUIL, PHOTOS BY LOUIE DESPRES
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