Published July 9, 2021
You may not know Jim Scripp, but you know his handiwork. It’s all around UB.
As head grounds supervisor, Scripp leads a crew of roughly three dozen employees tasked with ensuring the campus is kept manicured and looking its best — lawns mowed, plants pruned, flower beds mulched, trash receptacles emptied, parking lots paved and patched, and in the winter, roads and walkways plowed and salted.
It never ends. Between the North and South campuses, the maintenance encompasses 600 acres of lawn, 33 acres of athletic fields, 38 miles of road, 46 miles of walkway, 8,000 trees and 16,000 parking spaces.
“Pretty much everything you would consider doing at your home, we’re doing here,” Scripp says. “It’s just on a larger scale.”
Scripp, 54, began his career at UB in 1987 as a cleaner. After a couple years, he moved to grounds maintenance, where he worked his way up to supervisor some five years ago. Scripp prefers to remain behind the scenes, but if you’re on campus early enough you might spot him driving around in his truck inspecting the grounds.
“I go out at 6 a.m. and go through the areas of campus and take a look at what’s going on,” Scripp says. “I’ve got multiple lists in my truck and I’m always writing down things that need to be done.”
Mondays, for instance, can be unpredictable, depending on what the weekend may have brought. Rain or one phone call about a downed tree limb can throw off the schedule for the rest of the week.
“We have a schedule as far as grass cutting and a lot is based on what Mother Nature gives us,” Scripp says. “If the grass is growing, that’s pretty much what we’re doing daily. Once things start to slow down, like they are now, we start getting into a routine of edging and mulching trees and beds, pruning plant material. We do plant a lot of flowers, whether they’re in beds or flower pots.”
Scripp loves working outdoors, but not so much in the winter. Staying ahead of inclement weather can be stressful. He has spent more than a few winter nights on the couch in his office so he’s on campus ready for a pending storm.
“Jim and the entire grounds department are incredibly hardworking,” says Stacey M. Modicamore, assistant director of facilities operations.
“They work tirelessly all year-round to ensure that our campuses look beautiful during the warmer months, and that they are safe to navigate by car or on foot in the wintertime,” Modicamore says. “University Facilities consistently receives positive feedback regarding our grounds department and all their beautification efforts.”
Scripp gives the credit to his staff, but acknowledges he has high expectations. He treats UB as he would his own home and asks them to do the same.
“When I walk away from a job I want to be proud of it,” Scripp says, “and I want everyone else to be proud of it, too.”
Your Colleagues highlights employees who have an interesting story to tell, hobby to share and those who work behind the scenes to make UB go every day. Know someone who would make an interesting profile? Forward suggestions to Jay Rey.