California State University, Long Beach
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Facilities Management’s Duke Named Employee of the Month

Published: November 17, 2008

Grant Duke, a facilities control specialist for Facilities Management, was recently named by his coworkers as Employee of the Month.

Duke joined the university in 2001 and lives with his wife Karen and son, Taylor, in Huntington Beach. “I felt fortunate to have been nominated for the award. It came as quite a surprise, but I’m honored to have been selected,” he said.

CSULB President F. King Alexander praised Duke for being an asset to his shop’s commitment to providing service beyond their customers’ expectations. “Grant brings a ‘can-do’ attitude to every assignment,” he said. “He is a true professional.”

Duke thinks one reason for his recognition may be the satisfaction he finds in his interactions with campus customers. “Sometimes, I encounter people who are uncomfortable and frustrated with their situations,” he said. “I find these people are truly appreciative that I’m willing to listen and acknowledge their complaints and that I genuinely want to resolve their problem. Occasionally after making a repair, a customer may ask about the nature of a problem. I enjoy having the opportunity to explain my work and to see their surprise at the complexity of the mechanical systems hidden around them.”

As a facilities control specialist, Duke is responsible for keeping campus buildings as comfortable, while as energy efficient, as possible. “That can be difficult to do,” he said, “because sometimes you can be faced with conflicting priorities. We use the latest building automation technology available to monitor and control campus heating and air conditioning systems.” It is the variety of responsibilities, Duke claims, from computer programming to more conventional maintenance repair, which prevent his job from ever becoming too routine.

Duke, who grew up in Lakewood, took a less-than-direct path to CSULB, leaving Southern California 30 years ago to work at the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. There he received training as a refrigeration mechanic, met his wife Karen, and started a family. Unique to the position, which included repair of guest room air conditioning and kitchen refrigeration equipment, was the occasional requirement to travel by mule to the bottom of the canyon to service equipment at the Phantom Ranch guest facility. Concerned about the limited opportunities for a child growing up in so isolated a community, 75 miles from the nearest traffic light, Duke accepted a position at Utah State University, and moved with his family to Logan, Utah, in 1994. “I began to work with building automation systems in Utah,” Duke explained, “and several years later, when my enthusiasm for shoveling snow from the driveway had waned, I found a listing for a position at CSULB.”

Employee of the Month

Photo by David J. Nelson
Grant Duke and President F. King Alexander

When not working, Duke enjoys cycling. He rides 25 miles a day commuting between his Huntington Beach home and the campus. Recently, his wife Karen and he participated in a 100-mile bike ride along the coast of central California. “We really enjoyed the ride,” he said, “pedaling along this beautiful coastline, able to see dolphins playing in the waves, huge elephant seals sleeping on the sand and zebras grazing in the hills near San Simeon.” Last fall, Duke and his wife Karen were able to combine two of their interests, music and travel, on a Rhine river cruise through Europe. The cruise ended in Amsterdam, where they were able to see a local Southern California band play at the Paradiso, one of the best musical venues in that city.

Duke is glad that he has returned to Southern California and chosen CSULB. “I respect, and enjoy working with every person in my shop,” he said. “Everyone is dedicated and hard-working, cooperative and helpful at every opportunity. I couldn’t ask for a better crew, or environment, in which to work.” He’d recommend a university career to anyone. “I’ve got a good job, working with good people. It’s good to be home again,” he said.

in addition to seeing Friendship Walk renamed Grant Duke Lane, Duke received several gifts including a CSULB sweatshirt, a $25 gift card for the Elephant Bar Restaurant, a gift certificate for four tickets to a CSULB home game, a $10 gift certificate to Finbar’s Italian Kitchen and a coupon for one free Whopper from Burger King.