This archived article was written by: Katie Felice
Sheila Burghardt was the first woman in Utah to have a job position as a campus facilities manager. She worked as the only woman in Utah with that position for years until two years ago when Dixie State University and Snow College had women take the role as well.
After high school, Burghardt furthered her education at USU Eastern. She spent 10 to 15 years working for the school district with special needs students and as a substitute teacher while her children were growing up. When her youngest son was in high school, she decided she needed something to do and found there was a position open at USUE. A job she initially thought would only last a couple years became a career she has held for eight years. Burghardt says, “I totally love it. I am never bored, frustrated at times, but never bored.”
Burghardt started as an office assistant for two years, went from there to be supervisor of maintenance for two more years and after which she took on the position she currently holds.
Burghardt manages the maintenance budget for facilities. She also works as the risk coordinator for campus, ensuring the campus is physically up to par with ADA standards. Because there is currently no maintenance supervisor, Burghardt also works on the maintenance side of things and supervises employees.
All of the facilities managers in the state have a quarterly meeting and for many years Burghardt was the only woman at those meetings. While working in a job field with all men, she explains she faced no segregation (being the only woman), and was treated well. She does say, “We maybe have to prove ourselves a little more.” For the last two years she has had two other women alongside her at the meetings and she states, “We are treated really well.”
The facilities department works on new construction projects such as the new building being constructed on campus. The construction of new buildings requires Burghardt to apply for funding from the state to provide and manage the cost for these projects. Sometimes, two to three new projects a year are planned. In the past, there have been renovations to the campus library, a new roof on the WIB building and now the construction of the newest building on campus, the CIB.
“I really like working on the capitol development projects. This new building is the first one we have had in a long time. To put in the funding request every year and after 15 years to finally get the funding; I like that part,” Burghardt says.
One reoccurring issue with the facilities department has been temperature. To monitor that more closely, Burghardt and the maintenance crew use a computerized system where they can see what the current temperatures are, what it should be and adjust it accordingly. In order to keep this controlled, they check the system about once a day and even on weekends to ensure temperature adjustment is correct.
The department uses a web-based work order system in which anyone with an email address can send in a work order, via email, so the workers can then easily track what needs to be taken care of and handle it accordingly. Because of the high volume of calls and work orders being placed every day, Burghardt and her office assistant conduct daily meetings where they discuss what calls are coming in and what needs to be taken care of.
When she is not working, Burghardt and her husband love to travel. She has traveled to countries such as England, Russia, Portugal, Scotland and Mexico. Although because of how busy her husband stays with running his own small business and the demands of her job, she has not been out of the country since she has taken the facilities manager position.
Burghardt insists one of the most rewarding parts of her job has been the people she has worked with, saying, “I have a really great staff. The student workers are fun and the administration has been very supportive. I highly appreciate them.”