Center for Excellence Honoree: Peter GilmoreMichelle O'Hara recalls a favorite conversation she had with Pete Gilmore, a custodian in the Facilities Department, when she was campaigning for a seat on the Student Government Association.
"He said, 'Good luck sweetie. I hope you get it!' and he offered to help me put signs up," she recalled. Later, after she lost the election, Gilmore was just as supportive. He said, "Well you would have done an amazing job. I would have voted for you."
"Pete makes each and every student feel at home in this new environment with his kind words and thoughtful hellos," said O'Hara in nominating him for the Center for Excellence Award for Outstanding Service to Students. He is one of three staff members and three faculty members who were honored by the university at a dinner in the Recreation Center on Oct. 19.
"He always has a smile on his face and a positive attitude," wrote student Kimberly Beaulieu in her letter of nomination. "He is so sweet and caring, and is always working so hard."
Gilmore spent most of his career-27 years-as a manager at United Illuminating. After his job there was eliminated, he worked for a year at Stop & Shop. A friend suggested he apply at Quinnipiac. He began working at Chartwells, the university food service, and then became a custodian. Five years ago, he was assigned to Ledges, a freshman residence hall, which he considers a perfect workplace.
"I like being around the freshmen," he said. "I enjoy being friendly with them, helping them, referring them if they have questions. At first they're very quiet. But after the holidays, they come out of their cocoons. Most of them have never lived with three other people, and that's difficult for them."
He makes Ledges seem better "even when you're homesick, tired, upset or discouraged," wrote student Diane Giacomozzi.
When Gilmore found out he had won the award as one of the Quinnipiac's top employees, he said he was "flabbergasted."
"I had no idea I was being considered. I was very honored. It was a nice shock," he said. Gilmore learned of the award just a week after his mother passed away, so it boosted his spirits at an otherwise difficult time.
Gilmore lives in Hamden with his wife, Judy. Their daughter, Jennifer, and her husband live in Indiana with their 9-month old daughter Catherine, and the Gilmores visit them every chance they get.
"I think what I like most about my job is getting to know the students by name," Gilmore said. "That breaks the ice. Then they'll ask to borrow a vacuum or a mop and bucket to clean up before their parents come."
Gilmore, who will be 64 next month, said he has noticed a trend among freshmen. When students first arrive at college they're very neat. By May, their rooms are a disaster, he said.
Student Maile Milligan, who also nominated Gilmore, said Ledges can be a difficult place to keep clean.
"Based on the conditions I see the dorm in sometimes, I can't imagine his job to be pleasant, by any means. However, he always goes about his work with a positive attitude...His good mood seems to be contagious," Milligan said.
Gilmore said Mondays are his toughest days. "That's when I find the biggest mess," he said. "But, hey, that's what they pay me for. Sometimes it's a chore, but 95 percent of the time it is a pleasure."
Student Maura Browne said that Gilmore always offers a smile and will advise her to "bundle up" if it is cold outside.
"I have never once seen our bathroom anything other than spotless," Browne added.
"I like to leave the area spotless, especially the bathroom area," Gilmore said when told of her comment. "I take pride in keeping it as clean as I can."