May 112013

John Gill

By Katherine Ayers

Saturday, May 11, 2013

East Carolina University’s graduation went smoothly on Friday, but that was not without the help of a number of behind-the-scenes employees.

John Gill, assistant director of facility services, said people began working on Tuesday to prepare Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and Minges Coliseum for graduation.

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“We have a crew of about 25 grounds workers, eight moving services folks, four carpenters and two to three electricians,” Gill said.

“Plumbers came the week before to make sure all the bathrooms in the stadiums are working. People with the athletics department were handing out water to the graduates. Housekeeping staff helped hand out programs and made sure all facilities were clean.”

To begin the work, the athletic department grounds crew mowed the field on Tuesday. Gill said facility services employees began putting together the stages on Wednesday — one each on Bagwell Field in Dowdy-Ficklen and in Minges — which takes about two hours each, not including adding the plywood backdrop that is painted to look like Wright Auditorium.

Also on Wednesday, the chair rentals came in. This year ECU rented 2,000 chairs because all graduates would be sitting on the field rather than just the usual faculty, master’s and doctoral students.

Campus Landscape Artist Kevin Barnes figured out where best to place the chairs so as not to block anyone’s view of the ceremony.

On Thursday, the sound system was delivered and set up, chairs and 20 30-gallon plants were placed on the stages to hide the speakers.

On Friday morning, the crews were working up to about a half-hour before the ceremony to add finishing touches and then remained on standby in case any last-minute adjustments were needed.

Once the outside ceremony ended at 11 a.m., the crews reversed the set-up process. Gill said they were done by 2 p.m., with the exception of the confetti on the field which he said the athletic department’s grounds crew will mulch when they mow this weekend.

Gill, who has worked at ECU for 14 years, said he and his crews are “happy to do it.”

“This is the culmination of what the students came here to do,” Gill said. “It’s definitely worth it.”

Contact Katherine Ayers at and 252-329-9567. Follow her on Twitter @KatieAyersGDR.

via The Daily Reflector.


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