Michigan Ross Operations Supports the Learning and Work Environment of Faculty, Staff, and Students

Between the general maintenance, janitorial services, event support, and classroom support, a lot of work goes on at Michigan Ross that sometimes flies under the radar. However, behind the scenes is a dedicated team of operations professionals who work tirelessly to ensure the day-to-day activity at Michigan Ross runs smoothly.

Meet the Michigan Ross Operations Team

The Michigan Ross Operations team, overseen by Sheryl Redding-Humphrey, director of operations and safety, consists of 17 permanent staff members and 10 additional student and temp workers. Altogether, the responsibility of the Operations team is very large, as they ensure the safety and cleanliness of the building, provide information for visitors at the front desk, help to set up for events, organize and set up classrooms, coordinate office moves and set up spaces for new hires, facilitate room and equipment reservations, coordinate and execute construction projects, and more.

“Every day, we’re here to do what we can to support our students and the Ross community as a whole,” said Meghan Johnson, operations manager. “Ross is a very in-demand place. Everyone wants to have their events here; it’s a nice building and definitely an attraction. However, we always prioritize our students and do everything we can to serve the students and the Michigan Ross community.”

With classes beginning Jan. 10, at the very start of this month, Ross Operations was hard at work cleaning, performing general maintenance duties, and preparing classrooms and event spaces for the winter term. Now that classes are in full swing, they are still performing their day-to-day duties while assisting with issues that may crop up that no one can anticipate.

“We really help create the environment,” said Becky O’Connell, facilities manager. “Everything we do helps to impact how you feel when you walk in, be it classes, events, or studying. Our staff really works to make sure that people are walking into a welcoming environment and that we are here to answer their questions.”

“Oftentimes, we make Ross go,” said Anna Laird, facility project manager and designer. “We make sure that everything is operating and that people are able to work and learn and are not hindered by any given obstacle that comes up.”

In order to ‘make Ross go,’ Operations collaborates with every team at Michigan Ross. For the planning and execution of events, the team often works closely with the Marketing Events Team, Ross Catering, and various student programs and clubs. To ensure that work and study spaces are disturbed to the least extent, they do their best to coordinate event set-up and tear-down as close to the event as possible or during non-peak hours. The Operations team also collaborates with the registrar to plan and assign classrooms and balance classes and events. Beyond that, the team collaborates with all other units across the school to address maintenance issues.

Creating more innovative, collaborative, and versatile spaces

Besides the everyday duties, Ross Operations is always looking for ways to improve the study and workspaces around the school. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the Michigan Ross furniture had been thinned out to accommodate social distancing. Coming out of the pandemic, the Ross Operations team formed an advising committee of faculty and staff to replace much of the old furniture but also add furniture to more spaces for studying, collaboration, and meeting.

“The furniture that was replaced was very iconic, but it also didn’t provide much variety to the community in terms of functionality or ergonomics, and it wasn’t wheelchair accessible,” said Laird. “With the new furniture, we wanted to meet the functional needs of the community and provide different options to support different work modes and postures.”

To work through the planning and design considerations for the new furniture around the school, Ross Operations and the furniture committee collaborated with U-M Architecture, Engineering, and Construction. Besides enhancing the aesthetic of the business school, there were many factors to consider when selecting the new furniture. AEC helped to ensure that the furniture met the university standards for performance and had been tested and warranted for commercial use. It was also critical that there be wheelchair-accessible seating throughout all of the public spaces of Michigan Ross. Additionally, sustainability and the environmental impact of the new furniture were considered throughout this project. To reduce waste, approximately 99% of the old furniture was accepted by the U-M School of Public Health to be used in their spaces.

In August 2023, Operations began work to infill areas that didn’t previously have furniture. As of today, the team is still working to replace the existing furniture while ensuring the least disruption to the Michigan Ross community possible. While new pieces are still being installed, their goal is to complete the project by the end of spring break.

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