Skip to Main Navigation | Skip to Content

University Relations

University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


Grounds Staff Brings Home National Award for UCM

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Nov. 29, 2016) – While visitors to the University of Central Missouri campus may frequently comment on the institution’s beautiful grounds, a commitment to excellence by individuals responsible this for work is earning the university and its grounds crew national recognition. Through the 2016 Green Star Awards® Competition, the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) has recognized the university with the Honor Award, an achievement that involved a highly competitive entry process that included submissions from colleges and universities nationwide.

Award winners were announced during the society’s 2016 Awards Dinner that took place in conjunction with the PGMS School of Grounds Management & GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Ky., in October. The Green Star Awards® program provides national recognition for grounds maintained with a high degree of excellence, complementing other national landscape awards programs that recognize outstanding landscape design and construction.

During the recognition ceremony, PGMS presented four Grand Awards, which is its top honor, as well as 24 Honor Awards and five Merit Awards in nine competition categories. UCM was recognized with an Honor Award in the category for University and College Grounds, small institutions. Separate categories also honored larger colleges and universities, as well as urban universities. Additional award categories included School Grounds (K-12); Athletic Fields; Golf Courses; Hospitals or Institutions; Hotel, Motel or Resort; Multiple Sites Under Management Company; and Public Works Site.

Brad Mackey, a 16-year UCM employee who has served as grounds manager since 2014, praised the campus grounds crew for making this award possible. He also commended the work of Kevin Courtwright, a university alumnus and employee who served the institution as a landscape specialist for several years before he was hired as grounds supervisor in September 2015. Mackey said he named Courtwright to his position with a goal to win a national award.

Courtwright compiled materials that were submitted by the university for the 2016 award competition. This included an extensive array of photographs and information about university grounds that was put into a slide show and sent to a panel of judges. In making award decisions, judges considered areas that included turf, landscape, challenges, budget and sustainable practices.

“Each category is graded on a 20-point scale by the judges, and the categories add up to 100 points,” Courtwright said.

 Both men pointed out that judges’ comments will be useful in pursuing a future award goal.

“They have Merit, Honor and Grand Awards,” Mackey said. “Only one school gets the Grand. We’re going for the Grand Award next year.”

 Strengths that judges noted about UCM grounds included positive comments pertaining to turf and striping; annual plants around campus to add vibrant color; texture in shade garden areas; and use of alliums for seasonal events. During the Fourth of July observance, for example, flower beds near The Crossing - South at Holden featured alliums that were painted red, white and blue.  

“We have a lot of species diversity,” Mackey said. “We have more flower beds, more variety, more annual plants than a lot of campuses our size. We’re not just green.”

 Sustainable practices also were noted, according to Courtwright. He said the university’s grounds management includes efforts related to rainwater collection, including use of a cistern to collect water, use of native plants and ornamentals. The university also creates its own compost made from the leaves of many trees that add shade and help beauty the campus.

In talking about the value of work performed by the grounds staff, Mackey said campus appearance enters into student decisions about enrolling at UCM. UCM President Ambrose agrees, Mackey noted.

“I will never forget when I took this position, we were in a meeting with Dr. Ambrose and others from Finance and Administration. He looked right at me and as he was talking about student numbers he asked, ‘What’s the first thing anyone who comes to campus sees? A student and their family will often make up their mind about the school within 20 minutes of stepping on campus.’”

Quality, well-maintained grounds certainly impacts that decision, and the work is extensive. Courtwright said the grounds crew maintains approximately 65 acres of turf and 2.5 acres of planting beds, in addition to overseeing maintenance of 19 miles of campus sidewalks.

Chris Bamman, director of Facilities Planning and Operations, said he was proud of the work performed by the grounds staff, noting that they are doing more with fewer people.

“As we think about the experience on campus our visitors have, and as we try to align our priorities to increase appearance standards, I couldn’t be more pleased by the work of Brad, Kevin and the rest of the grounds team, who have elevated those standards. We appreciate the recognition we have received to validate all of the team’s great efforts.”

Grounds crew

The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) recognized the University of Central Missouri with an Honor Award in the University and College Grounds, small institutions category, in the 2016 Green Star Awards® Competition. Current and former employees who contributed to the award-winning effort were first row, left to right, Becky Ammon, Lucy Downing (former employee), Grounds Foreperson Tia Bond, Phill Gower, George Shuster III, Jacque Marshall, Thomas Burden Travis Guler; second row, Grounds Manager Brad Mackey, Grounds Supervisor Kevin Courtwright, Paul Dewey Schleer, Shawn Lindley, Keith Butler, Charles Chapman, Bobby Lewis, and Greg Nelson.  Trisha Tenholder, a former employee who is not shown, also contributed to the award.