All in a day's work for Dale DeYoung
May 30, 2008
For 27 years Dale DeYoung has been doing work at Calvin that he almost hopes no one notices. De Young, an associate director for the physical plant, serves as the general contractor for remodeling projects and additions.
“The neat thing about what we do,” said DeYoung of his talented crew, “is that we make things look like they’ve always been there. We try to blend our work into what is already there.”
The final product is one that not only creates continuity for the campus, but also contributes to the overall beauty of the campus. And that is something that almost everyone notices.
For his service at Calvin, DeYoung has been presented with the 2008 William Spoelhof Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually to a staff member who best exemplifies the qualities of dedication, service and performance that marked former Calvin College president William Spoelhof’s lifelong affiliation with Calvin.
DeYoung began his affiliation with Calvin nearly three decades ago, working as a contract employee on the Commons Annex. But, it was computers that created a permanent job at Calvin for DeYoung in 1981.
"Computers were just starting to come onto everyone’s desktop and they didn’t have space for them,” he said. “That displaced hundreds of desks on campus. I like to think we developed the first countertop layouts for computers. We literally went right down the line in departments, replacing all of the desks with countertops.”
To this day, all workspace countertops are built and installed by the physical plant staff. “We don’t buy desks anymore,” he said. “The computer really changed that.”
One of DeYoung’s most challenging and rewarding projects over the years was the fifth-floor addition to the Hekman Library.
"I remember standing on the roof of the library thinking, ‘We want another floor on this. How are we going to do this? How do I get a square to start the building?’ I called the architect on that and he said, ‘Good question.’
"Now when I walk across campus at night and see that building all lit up, it’s pretty rewarding,” he said. “I know every part of it.”
The same is true of the chapel plaza, the Spoelhof Center remodel, the residence halls and apartment remodels, and most recently, the atrium addition to the Spoelhof Center, and the list goes on and on.
"Just about everything on campus has Dale’s touch on it,” said Phil Beezhold, director of the physical plant. “He pays incredible attention to detail, and he looks at things from the perspective of a student—what it would be like to experience something here as a student.”
Next up is a long list of summer projects and work on the new Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex ramps up in the fall. “I’m not sure exactly what that means, but when I look at the [athletic complex] plans, I see a lot of places marked ‘by owner.’ That means us,” he said. “When Henry DeWitt hired me years ago, he said, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to be able to keep you busy.’ That was 27 years ago. It hasn’t slowed down since.”
Definitely on the list are handcrafted wood lockers for the new locker rooms, new trophy cases and some office remodeling.
"It’s all work we would love to do,” said De Young, “but it all takes time. My crew is the greatest crew. They’re very professional and very talented. I have not heard of another campus that has the kind of crew that Calvin has. They all really take the time to do it well and take a lot of pride in their work.”
The noticeable quality also creates demand. “We’re booked until fall of 2009,” said De Young. “Not many people in this business have a job like that.”
~by Lynn Rosendale, communications and marketing