In 2011, Houston experienced its worst drought in 50 years; the drought ravaged thousands of the city’s trees and threatened the 4,300 trees on Rice University’s 300-acre campus. Thanks to the hard work of Rice’s grounds team, the mortality rate of the campus trees was a fraction of that experienced at other parks and campuses throughout the city.
For its outstanding efforts, the 30-member grounds team received framed certificates from the Building and Grounds Committee of the Rice University Board of Trustees for its “unparalleled dedication in nurturing the grounds on the Rice University campus” and preparation of the campus for Rice’s Centennial Celebration. The certificates were presented Dec. 12 at a breakfast ceremony hosted by the Facilities Engineering and Planning administration in the Duncan College Commons. Following the ceremony, the Buildings and Grounds Committee personally recognized the team for its work.
During the ceremony, Barbara White Bryson, associate vice president for facilities, engineering and planning, read a letter signed by trustee Bob Brockman, chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, which praised the grounds team for its hard work.
“The impact to many parts of the city was devastating, with the loss of thousands of Houston’s precious resource of trees,” the letter read. “However, on the Rice campus, you and the rest of our dedicated grounds team redoubled your efforts to preserve trees and large plantings by working long, unprecedented hours watering and then fertilizing.”
The letter continued, “Once the drought relented, you and the grounds team nurtured Rice’s parched lawns and ground cover back to health. You added new gardens and planting areas. You replanted lost trees, and you made this campus bloom as it never has before.”
Russell Price, assistant vice president of facilities, praised the team for its excellent work ethic.
“When I walk around campus and see the groundskeepers, they’re always busy, cutting grass and trimming trees,” he said. “And that’s what makes this place so great – your work ethic and what you do every day for the university.”
Eusebio Franco, director of custodial and grounds, said the team grows every year.
“I’ve been with this group for about 35 years, and every year they get better,” he said.
Grounds Supervisor Edward Galindo, a 16-year employee of the grounds team, said he feels that this group of employees is “the best grounds team in the whole state.” He called it “a great privilege and honor” for the team to be recognized in this fashion.
“We’ve worked hard for many years, keeping up with the needs of the campus, but we find that this particular year we’ve worked very hard to meet the goals of the centennial,” he said. “As a team, we’re grateful and feel very privileged to be recognized during Rice’s centennial year. And we’re honored that so many people come to Rice and fall in love with the campus and continue to come back.”