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Alumni Spotlight: Mark Klapatch

November 9, 2016

UW-River Falls alumni are involved as employees all over the campus. One alumnus is in charge of ensuring the facilities at UWRF are up and running and ensuring that the school is making a sustainable impact.

Mark Klapatch is currently serving as the UWRF sustainability and custodial supervisor, responsible for overseeing the Facilities Management Department. In addition to overseeing the custodial responsibilities of all of the facilities on campus, he is also in charge of coordinating sustainability efforts across campus.

Originally from Green Bay, Klapatch initially became interested in attending UWRF after his twin brother told him about the school. Looking at his options, the small town feel of the college is what convinced him to attend, and says that UWRF recruiter Allan Tuckenhegen sold him at the mention of a $3 movie theater.

“I just really like the small town feel of it,” Klapatch said.

When Klapatch arrived at UWRF as a freshman in 2005, he originally lived in Grimm Hall. There, he was elected hall president, and got to know his fellow students through running events like Grimm Haunted Hall, one of his favorite activities he helped plan with Hall Council.

He later moved on to get involved with the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH), where he served as the recognition chair for one year and also served two years as president of the organization. His favorite memories include attending conferences for NRHH and meeting new friends through the organization.

During his freshman year, Klapatch took on multiple student work positions, including becoming a custodian for the Hagestad Student Center (now Hagestad Hall), and he was also responsible for planning activities in the David Rodli Commons. When the new University Center opened, Klapatch later took on the role as a student manager for the then new facility.

During the first year of operations for the University Center, there were all sorts of problems that Klapatch and his staff had to troubleshoot in order to maintain the new building on campus. After managing the building for another two years, everything fell into place. It was through this role that Klapatch found his passion for management, and he graduated with a degree in business administration with an emphasis in management and a minor in Spanish. He later went on to earn a master’s in organizational leadership at Bethel University and studied abroad in Mexico over J-term.

“That’s when I really got into management,” he said. “So doing a business administration major with the management emphasis made sense.”

After graduation, he applied for multiple positions throughout the state, including a position for custodial supervisor at UWRF. Due to a hiring freeze, he was unable to be offered the job right away, but was hired after less than two weeks. He said that he felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to work as a student worker and also feels fortunate to work for UWRF today.

“I never have the same day twice,” he said. “My job has a lot of variety. I could be moving furniture, helping with custodial [work], coming to meetings and now with the sustainability role adds another component.”

Previously, custodial positions at UWRF didn’t concentrate on sustainability aspects as much as they do now. Today, Klapatch oversees efforts by the school to help sort and eliminate waste in the school, through removing waste bins in classrooms and organizing specific waste and recycling bins in offices in order to help minimize impacts. Klapatch also oversees programs such as the Surplus Property Program in Rodli Hall, which has been expanded to online auctions and has also become a monthly event on campus. Through the program, 9,900 pounds worth of items were repurposed in 2015 alone, which has given revenue back to the school rather than having to spend the money to recycle the technology.

In addition to working toward eliminating waste, Klapatch also focuses his work in water and energy conservation. He works closely with UWRF faculty by giving presentations on sustainability to classes, and gives tours on sustainability to campus visitors. He summarizes his job as one that helps promote sustainability awareness throughout campus.

“We’re looking to build more of a culture of sustainability,” Klapatch said.

Klapatch’s advice to current students is obviously to recycle. He also advises getting more involved with campus activities.

“After college, you don’t always get those experiences,” he said. “So it’s always good to do it when you can.”