Q&A: Facilities' Jim Kennedy

Q&A: Facilities' Jim Kennedy

You’ve spent the last five years overseeing the construction and renovation of the new SPH facility. That’s more than 450,000 square feet of responsibility. What’s the toughest thing about the job?

The unpredictability. I’m the kind of person who plans my work and works my plan, and you’re not always able to do that in this job. Eighty percent of the time I work in crisis mode. I take emergency calls 24/7. During the construction process there were probably better than a dozen times I was here for 48 hours straight.

What prepared you for this kind of work?

I owned a towing company, so I dealt with unhappy people every day, worked in crisis 90 percent of the time. I also owned a fabrication shop, so we did a lot of construction fabrication.

What’s the most important quality you bring to your job?

I never get frustrated, never panic. Fire alarms going off, electrical failures, burst pipes, whatever the problem, I make a decision how best to handle the emergency. The worst decision made in any type of business is one not made. Take common sense and good information from the construction crew, and make a decision and keep the process moving forward all the time. I also know that I’m being supported by the dean’s office. If I made a decision, I’d be backed up.

You must have learned a thing or two about public health during the past five years.

I’ve learned a lot more about chemistry than I ever learned in college. I take care of a lot of the lab safety issues here, so when I don’t know about a chemical, I have to know who to call to ask, and I have to look it up to know what it is.

How do you relax?

Extremes. Hiking, reading a book, driving a race car. I build and drive race cars, and on summer weekends you’ll find me at one of the local short tracks in Michigan.

Do you have a favorite spot in the school?

The sixth floor of the tower, in the lounge area, sunrise and sunset. A lot of days I get to see both.

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