The University of Texas at Tyler Physical Plant’s building maintenance technicians handle all building maintenance including electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, painting and vehicle servicing.
The Physical Plant crew dubs Page Chapman – a UT Tyler employee for five years – ‘the new guy.’
The newest handyman, Chapman transferred to Building Maintenance from Mail Services in January 2010.
“Since I live so close to the campus, I always tell Chip (Clark, UT Tyler director of facilities, planning, construction and operations), ‘If y’all need me for anything, I’m here,’” Chapman says. “He called me one day and asked me to help out with a water leak at the Palestine Campus. I rode up there with him and a bunch of the other guys. That next week, Paul (Weil, UT Tyler building maintenance supervisor) asked if I was interested in working in maintenance, and now here I am. I owe him a lot of thanks.”
On campus, Chapman can be seen doing just about anything – from replacing light bulbs and ceiling tiles to painting classrooms and trimming trees. He also regularly tends to the UT Tyler Robert R. Muntz Library Gardens fountain.
“When I came over here, I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with what they did,” he said. But they all have had patience with me. At first, I was helping guys with jobs, but now they’ve given me my own projects.”
A first-time experience he says he won’t forget is cleaning the Ralph and Mary John Spence Fountain’s underground water system.
“I never thought I’d do something like that, but it’s a job that maintenance has to do,” Chapman recalls. “You’re on your hands and knees under the fountain, and you just have to clean it out. It wasn’t a clean job – it was a dirty job, but it’s something that is done yearly.”
In the future, he will see more paint jobs. Maintenance worker Edmond “Preacher Man” Wiggins shares his paintbrush with Chapman, who now is transitioning to become the lead painter.
“Antique White is the most common paint we use. I’d guess on average we go through anywhere between 20 and 25 gallons of paint each summer,” Chapman said. “We do most of the painting during summertime.”
No job is too unusual or messy for him or the crew, according to Chapman. His close proximity to the main campus in Tyler and self-proclaimed enthusiasm is an apparent win-win for both parties.
“Because I walk to and from work and even stroll through campus during my days off some may think how can you ‘get away’ from work when you do that, but I don’t mind. It’s a beautiful area and a great place to work,” he said. “I love my job. I feel like I’ve accomplished something at the end of the day, every day.”
His wife Bridget, along with their son Jack, also enjoy UT Tyler’s park-like atmosphere during weekends.
“Jack says I have the coolest job ever,” Chapman said grinning.
Editor’s Note: Many staff work behind the scenes at The University of Texas at Tyler. In this continuation of the summer feature series “Faces Behind the Scenes,” we will highlight more of the ‘unsung heroes’ within the UT Tyler Physical Plant.