Gary Wood Receives UVA Sandridge Award for Keeping North Grounds Running Smoothly
Gary Wood began his work in facilities maintenance at the University of Virginia 40 years ago as an entry-level air conditioning assistant. These days, he is responsible for keeping the Law School and the rest of the facilities on North Grounds — aka "Woodville" — running smoothly.
For his efforts, the facilities zone manager has been named a 2016 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award winner, the University's highest honor for staff. (Career Services' Kevin Donovan also was named a recipient).
Wood has been involved with almost every aspect of the Law School's physical operation and upkeep over the years. His work was crucial to maintaining services during the building's expansion in 1995 as contractors attempted to integrate new halls with existing pipes and cooling systems. Last summer, he worked with Gregory B. Streit, the Law School's assistant dean for building services, to keep the Law School cool and comfortable during North Grounds Mechanical Plant renovations.
For every light bulb replaced and new door hung, the Law School can thank Wood and his crew.
"Gary Wood works hard to ensure the Law School buildings are well maintained and are operating smoothly," Streit said. "He is also a great partner from a stewardship perspective by continually evaluating our maintenance processes in order to find cost-effective solutions. I frequently rely on his expertise to make decisions that affect the Law School’s physical environment. I have enjoyed working with Gary for the past eight years and I look forward to working with him for years to come."
In addition to the Law School, Wood and his team service buildings totaling more than a million square feet, including the Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, the Miller Center and the Darden School of Business.
Wood's leadership as a zone manager has not only increased efficiency, but built closer relationships with those to whom his department is accountable, said Cheryl Gomez, director of UVA Facilities Management.
"Gary is constantly focused on reducing operational costs and improving reliability for his customers and for the University," Gomez said in her nomination letter. "An excellent example is the upgrade of the North Grounds Mechanical Plant that is saving more than 50 percent in energy use post-upgrade compared to pre-upgrade performance. Gary's tireless efforts to coordinate and implement work within the buildings served by the plant and his constant communication with the Law School and JAG School about potentially disruptive impacts were a major contributor to the success of the project."
Wood became the University's first zone manager in 1998 as part of a revised approach to maintaining buildings on Grounds — the beginning of a transition from centralized trades shops.
"It was no accident that Gary was chosen to lead this first zone," said Michael B. Merriam, associate director of maintenance for the University, as part of Wood's nomination. "He had a longstanding reputation for personal integrity and high standards — values that he held others accountable for, contractors and employees alike. In the trades, North Grounds eventually came to be called 'Woodville,' and everyone knew that any work there would be subject to Gary's scrutiny. His steadfast protection of the interests of his zone's customers earned Gary the trust and admiration that resonates in their testimonials."
Wood said he laughs when people refer to North Grounds as "Woodville," but recognizes it's a reflection of how seriously he takes his responsibilities. He thanked his managers for nominating him for the award.
"It's very much a large honor," Wood said, while also acknowledging that nothing gets done without teamwork.
"One person doesn't do it on your own. You have to rely on your employees."