Back in junior high, Jim Hay would hang out at his friend Stuart’s house in Corona del Mar, where he’d see maps of a soon-to-be built University of California campus. Stuart’s father was Founding Chancellor Daniel Aldrich Jr., and, although Hay didn’t know it then, he was looking at maps of the future – his future at UCI.
“I couldn’t have imagined that I was looking at the place I would spend my entire career,” Hay recalls.
Hay came to work at UCI May 11, 1972 – the same week he was relieved of active duty from the U.S. Navy Reserve – and never left. He started in the storehouse, then worked for Facilities Management at night while attending California State University, Long Beach. In 1999, he became director of buildings and grounds, skilled trades and renovations, then was appointed assistant vice chancellor in December 2006. His responsibilities have grown with the campus.
To understand the scope of his job, consider the numbers. UCI has 1,475 acres to maintain, more than 170 buildings, 12 miles of roads, 60 parking lots, 24,000 trees, and miles of irrigation pipeline. Sprinkler heads? Don’t even go there.
To keep it all humming, Hay oversees more than 125 staffers and 200 contract employees.
“We maintain everything inside the buildings, from the flooring to the ceiling tiles, and outside, too,” he says. “It’s a huge job.”
Often, one can spot Hay wandering the campus, occasionally pausing to pick up a piece of trash. It’s something he saw Chancellor Aldrich do, and now he and most of his employees do it, too.
Key campus landmarks hold personal memories for him. He helped install the 430-pound bronze anteater, a gift of the class of ’87, outside the Bren Events Center. Then there’s the Aldrich memorial. Built by his staff in 2000 in honor of his former neighbor, the stone memorial in Aldrich Park is one of his favorite spots.
Today, Hay’s greatest challenge is recruiting and retaining staff on a tight budget to keep up with the growing campus. There’s no place else he’d rather work.
“If the campus is clean, if the grass and trees are green, and the aesthetics inside and out are acceptable, I get a lot of satisfaction,” he says. “With this job, you can actually see the results of your efforts.”