When F.D. Hobart came to Davidson as director of facilities in 1925, his groundskeeping equipment consisted of a mule and a mowing machine. Today, the college owns some 170 vehicles, including golf carts used by employees in their jobs in building, grounds and engineering.
Times change, but the people behind those wheels remain what's important, John Hobart '51 told Physical Plant workers on Thursday at the luncheon for an annual staff award in honor of his father.
"Davidson wouldn't be anything like what it is if it weren't for you," said Hobart, who grew up following his dad around campus. The Hobart family recently increased the cash component of the award to $1,000.
This year's F.D. Hobart Award went to Terry Gantt, a physical plant accounting staff member nominated by her peers for "being particular about doing her job right," "going with the flow of changes" and "bringing a little humanism to a fast-paced, computerized world."
"Dependability, great work ethic, adaptability, positive attitude, social compassion," one nominator wrote about Gantt, "are these qualities not what we hope to instill in our graduates?"
Physical Plant workers support students' lives in the broader campus community as well as in their academic work, said David Holthouser, director of facilities management.
Four Environmental Studies major capstone projects this year are prime examples of collaboration among staff, students and faculty, he said.
Ally Sexton '18 studied the demographics of indoor temperature preferences, working with physical plant technical engineers to use students and faculty as "guinea pigs" in various heating and cooling zones of the college's centralized system.
The research produced data that Holthouser will put to work immediately in fine-tuning the daily allocations of energy to heating and cooling zones around campus. Holthouser works closely with Duke Energy to optimize the most efficient energy consumption patterns.
Three other Environmental Studies projects also drew on Physical Plant expertise:
Gracie Ghartey-Tagoe '18 studied The Farm at Davidson's current financial status in the context of its value for teaching, as well as the social benefits associated with reduced greenhouse gases.
Cassidy Shell '18 reassessed a 2009 study of the cost of a potential campus solar farm in light of priorities contained in the college's more recent Climate Action Plan, which calls for the college to procure 12 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
Meredith Hess '18 researched the green building performance gap, the gap between how a green building is predicted to perform and how it actually performs, by collecting energy-use data for the E. Craig Wall, Jr. Academic Center and comparing this to the energy models that the architects and engineers used when they designed the center.