by Raymond Owen ’14
After sixteen years of service as the Physical Plant Director of Hampden-Sydney College, Tom Gregory has retired to the occupations of grandfather and farmer. His long-time secretary, Sarah Tolley said that he had looked forward to his retirement and to enjoying life on his farm in Gretna, VA with his grandchildren, after having directed Hampden-Sydney through some of her largest grounds projects ever.
Mr. Gregory oversaw the construction of the Bortz Library and Everett Stadium, the remodeling of the Wilson Center and the Kirby Field House, and the renovations of Settle Commons and F Dorm, just to list a few. Many students will be happy to know, though, that the renovation of the Tiger Inn had nothing to do with our school’s Physical Plant; that was Thompson Hospitality’s interpretive flourish.
The Physical Plant is commonly referred to a Buildings and Grounds, or B & G for short, and is the largest department on campus. Comprised of six departments within one, it houses Grounds, Fire & Safety (not to be confused with the HSC Fire Department), Housekeeping, Facilities, Water, and Maintenance. The office at my visit was a constant whir of activity with crackling radios, reports of ants in Z Dorm, discussion of how to fix problems without the proper tools, and carpool cars being checked in and out from the main desk. The impression that I got was of constantly shifting problems, Herculean labors being met with resourcefulness and speed—a managerial headache that would demand the most patient and responsive leader.
Mr. John Prengaman now holds Gregory’s position as Physical Plant Director. During a hasty interview, lasting maybe fifteen seconds, between a phone call and meeting, I was able to ask Mr. Prengaman if he had a mission statement for his new post. He was able to state only that his mission was “simply to continue Gregory’s strong program and to continue to support the school.” He blew through the hall and was out the door before I could thank his secretary, once Mr. Gregory’s, for her time.
The Physical Plant of Hampden-Sydney, the largest department and largest employer of the college, makes the entire Hampden-Sydney experience possible for students and faculty alike. The white fences, kempt lawn, beautiful buildings, and working toilets of the college are due to this hard working and ever adapting department. I hope that the student body will remember this when it sees this organization at work.