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June 21, 2010

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

Faces Behind the Scenes: UT Tyler Power Plant

Editor’s Note: Many staff work behind the scenes at The University of Texas at Tyler. In this four-part summer feature series, “Faces Behind the Scenes,” we will highlight some of the “unsung heroes” within the UT Tyler Physical Plant.


Above: Ricky Clark serves as the UT Tyler utilities operations supervisor. Middle: Clark and some of his staff in the UT Tyler Power Plant. Below: Some of the UT Tyler Physical Plant staff members gather for a photo.

The University of Texas at Tyler Utilities Operations staff sustains the central systems of boilers and chillers, while observing the air conditioning systems and heating and ventilation equipment on the main campus. The staff also maintains and controls temperatures at the UT Tyler Longview University Center and UT Tyler Palestine Campus.

At the Power Plant, it’s all about customer satisfaction – according to Ricky Clark, utilities operations supervisor.

“That’s our goal and mission here,” said Clark, who has been with the university for almost six years. “There are a lot of things that go into making students, faculty, staff and visitors comfortable. We want everyone to have a positive experience here on campus. Many people don’t know what it takes to operate a facility this size with the manpower we have.”

With more than 100 air-handling units and two 1,000-ton chillers on a 207-acre campus with 23 buildings, it is not a small or unimportant task for Clark and his eight-member team of operators. Aside from keeping building room temperatures in check throughout the year, they also maintain water and air pressures and energy consumption.

Clark, second from left, and members of his staff pose for a photo

“We do our best to keep our eye on our energy consumption. And we try not to have any waste, especially now with the economic situation,” Clark explained. “We’re running as few things as possible yet trying to keep everybody as comfortable as possible. If you walk into a space and it’s cold, it’s the energy measures that we’ve taken.”

Those measures are part of an energy conservation program university administrators aggressively approached last February.

“In a year, we cut our energy costs by about $280,000,” Clark said. “That was a whole team effort – from taking out light bulbs where they weren’t needed, turning off equipment when it wasn’t in use, cutting back on the chillers’ loads – we are being real proactive and aggressive.”

Clark gives credit to his staff, who he says makes his job easy.

Clark and some of his team working in the Power Plant

“I have a great group of guys,” Clark said. “The majority of the time, if there is a problem the operators are on it, and they get it fixed or do whatever it takes. When you’ve got eight guys like that, there are a lot less things that I have to worry about because I have full confidence in them. It’s easy on all of us.”

The good team effort starts from administration, Clark explains.

“Management is great out here. It’s just a great atmosphere,” he added, regarding working at UT Tyler. “It’s very relaxed and very friendly and family orientated. Dr. (Rodney) Mabry (UT Tyler President), I think, does a wonderful job at keeping us informed of the goings-on of some of his behind the scenes. It trickles down from him, to Mr. (Gregg) Lassen (UT Tyler executive vice president for business affairs) and to my supervisor, Chip Clark (UT Tyler director of facilities, planning, construction and operations).

“You don’t feel like you don’t matter or it doesn’t matter. Everybody’s included. It’s a real good, positive thing.”

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.

Physical Plant staff members pose for a photo

Faces Behind the Scenes Feature Series:


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