TU Physical Plant VP named 2017 Mr. Homecoming

Bob Shipley, the University of Tulsa’s associate vice president for Operations and Physical Plant, who has been with TU for over 20 years, was awarded the title of Mr. Homecoming 2017.
“I enjoy the recognition for myself and for my department…the title and the idea of Mr. Homecoming is sort of fun. It’s a little different than being a distinguished Alum. I mean, what the heck is a Mr. Homecoming anyway? So I think it’s been a fun process,” he said. “Some of my friends who are away from TU say ‘well, just what the devil is this Mr. Homecoming? Did you run for it and beat a co-ed who’s probably smarter and better looking than you? How did this happen?’ So those are fun encounters, to explain that it is a recognition that goes to faculty and staff.”
Shipley said the award means a lot to him because he can share it with his family. “I have a daughter who lives in LA; she and her boyfriend come home for this because she was a TU graduate, and so she is coming to Homecoming and her dad is Mr. Homecoming. And I have a son who lives here in town and he’s married, so his family is coming to the bonfire and I get to light the bonfire.”
When asked why he thinks he won the title, he answered: “The Physical Plant does a good job…and certainly, if they didn’t do a good job, I wouldn’t have gotten the award. I am the Physical Plant guy, along with John Wood, who is the associate director…we’ve managed it for a long time and our faces are kind of on it.” He elaborated that: “We have an awful lot of good and talented people, carpenters and painters, and I think over the long term, they’ve been known for doing a very good job and I think that set me in a place that I was considered for this.”
Shipley’s responsibilities at TU are multifaceted. “First, I have the Physical Plant to look over, and day to day we’re involved in a lot of little maintenance things. When you walk in the door, you don’t know what it’s gonna be that day. It could be bumblebees coming out of the attic or a flooded basement after a storm. I enjoy the challenge of those things.”
However, his primary job is actually managing the design of new buildings. “I’m the person who works with architects the university has hired and causes them to interface with faculty groups,” he said.
His favorite story from working on campus is something he still laughs about. “Most of the time when people are talking about crises on campus, they overstate….A friend of mine radioed over and said there were some bees in Helmerich, and kind of implied the professors and students were exaggerating. So…I walked up to the third floor…and I started to go in this room and I looked through this class and it looked like a bee cave. It was not overstated.”
Shipley said he loves working on campus because he is able to see all the things he has been a part of over the years. “Just walking across campus and seeing buildings that I’ve been involved with and seeing the layout of the campus and the pedestrian system with brick paving and vintage lights and trees overhanging them, that just gives me enormous satisfaction to see those things.”

Post Author: Grace McFee