Dan Lewis did not know what to expect when he was called into the president’s office at Franklin & Marshall College in late April. Lewis, who will soon complete his 28th year as a member of Franklin & Marshall’s Department of Facilities & Operations, had been summoned to investigate a problem with ants in the building. But when he arrived in Old Main, there was no ant problem.
“Folks were acting very strangely. I thought, ‘What’s going on?’” said Lewis, F&M’s director of housekeeping and College House facilities.
Lewis learned the real reason for his visit when F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield congratulated him on being the recipient of the 2012 Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes a member of the F&M professional staff each year who consistently goes above and beyond what would normally be considered good performance, who has earned the respect of students and colleagues, and who has clearly demonstrated his or her commitment to the mission of the College.
A committee of members of the professional staff reviewed the nominees for the Kneedler Award and recommended Lewis as this year’s winner. “Those nominating Dan recognized his many contributions to academic and community life at F&M, his sense of optimism and encouragement, and his gregarious and good-natured approach to his job,” Porterfield said in a message to the campus community announcing the award on May 7.
“I’m amazed, proud, and amazed again that my peers thought that highly of me,” Lewis said. “It’s exciting and I’m happy, but I’m also still in shock. I feel like I won the lottery, but I never play.”
Lewis joined F&M in July 1984 as superintendent of housekeeping, overseeing the College’s in-house and contracted custodial staff. Several years later, he became building trades manager, a position in which he supervised F&M’s locksmiths, carpenters and painters. He now serves as a liaison between F&M’s College Houses and Facilities & Operations, helping dons, prefects and students with various tasks and questions.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Lewis is a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Before joining F&M, he worked in various maintenance positions at Wilkes College (now Wilkes University), Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois and St. Francis College (now St. Francis University) in Loretto, Pa.
Through the years, Lewis has worked on many projects to enhance F&M’s physical spaces through painting, carpeting, masonry and other means. He also opened F&M’s Service Response Center, the first point of contact for members of the campus community who have requests or questions related to services provided by Facilities & Operations.
“I get to work with the coolest people in [Facilities & Operations], and I’ve never had a bad boss,” Lewis said. “Think about the people we have here, people who shovel snow at 3 a.m., clean restrooms day in and day out, and set up and tear down for events. And they all smile.”
One thing that makes Lewis smile himself is working with F&M students. He advises F&M’s Bessie Smith Society, a student group devoted to jazz, blues and folk music, and WFNM radio, where he hosts a program that airs from 5 to 7 a.m. each Monday during the academic year. He has also been a regular performer in “Fum Follies,” an annual musical comedy presented by members of the faculty and professional staff.
“Students are the best part of working here,” Lewis said. “I came to F&M, I loved it and I stayed. They pay me to do this. I’m very happy.”