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Staffer's Focus on Making UC Merced Clean and Green Leads to Managerial Role

June 23, 2008

Staffer's Focus on Making UC Merced Clean and Green Leads to Managerial Role

Javier Rodriguez knows what it means to make the most of an opportunity. It’s no surprise, then, that he has big plans for his newest one.

Rodriguez, who didn’t speak English when he moved at age 24 from Mexico City to Santa Cruz, was chosen for the brand-new role of general services manager at UC Merced in March.

Formerly the senior custodial supervisor, Rodriguez will now be in charge of
five areas:grounds services, mail and distribution, lock and access services, shipping and receiving, and moving and events.

It’s an important job and a significant challenge, but that’s nothing new for a man who essentially started UC Merced’s custodial department from scratch when the university opened in 2005.

Rodriguez was in a similar position by the time he left UC Santa Cruz after nearly a decade there, but he relished the opportunity to build from the ground up in Merced.

“It was challenging, but it was also very exciting, because at a mature campus, you’re not able to implement new things easily,” Rodriguez said. “You have to go through 10 or 12 supervisors to agree on something. This was an exciting opportunity to start fresh and do something new.”

Rodriguez quickly got to work on making the department work as efficiently as possible. He made sure his staff was using cleaner chemicals and better equipment than he had seen in past jobs, and in so doing, he unintentionally started UC Merced’s custodial services on an environmentally friendly path.

By the time Rodriguez began to learn about
“green cleaning,”his department was already using many of its methods. That, along with the outstanding organization of his staff, quickly put him in the administration’s good graces.

“The custodial department fits very well into the university’s goals,” Rodriguez said. “We’re one of the few units right now that can say we’re almost 90 percent green on activities we provide to the campus.”

Now Rodriguez will move beyond custodial services. Having held several different positions at UC Santa Cruz, he said he has the broad perspective that is needed for a position like general services manager.

His goal is simply to make all five of his departments work as efficiently and successfully as custodial services was under his watch — and to continue to make UC Merced a more environmentally conscious operation.

Beyond that, well, Rodriguez is just happy to be here.

“In the beginning, my goal was just to get a job and get a house,” he said. “I’ve been working here for over three years now, and I haven’t regretted a single moment.”

It’s important, Rodriguez says, to note that he is not a one-man show.

“I could not have come as far as I have without the support and dedication of my custodial crew, my supervisors and my loyal family. I can’t wait to begin this new chapter of my career with my new departments and the amazing workers they have on staff.”