Manicured lawns, trimmed trees, well-kept walkways and vibrant landscaping impress visitors to Franklin & Marshall’s 202-acre red-brick campus, but this bucolic setting also is a reflection of the man behind its endless maintenance efforts.
Director of grounds and grounds manager for 20 of his 35 years at F&M, Ted Schmid serves the frontline of maintenance and operations with dedication, distinction and accomplishment. For this and more he is honored with the 2018 Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award.
Named for a F&M President Emeritus Richard Kneedler ’65, the award recognizes a member of the F&M professional staff who consistently goes above and beyond what is required, and has earned the respect of students and colleagues. Schmid, say colleagues, surpasses even those qualities.
“The campus is a testament to the work he does and each member of his team does,” said Mike Wetzel, associate vice president for Facilities Management and Campus Planning. “Ted does a fabulous job of getting the troops together.”
“Ted is a wonderful steward of the campus,” said Donna Pflum, director of Alumni Relations who organizes key campus events including Alumni & Family Weekend and Homecoming. “He is a steadfast partner. When you call on him, he’s always there for you, always has an answer, always spot on, always helpful and fun – he’s a fun guy to work with.”
Schmid, humble as he is cheerful, recalled his response after F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield told him he was this year’s Kneedler recipient.
“My first thought afterward was of my mom who passed away unexpectedly in August and how proud she would be,” Schmid said. “My first phone call was to my father on my way home and we agreed, I'm sure she is up there smiling.”
Before he arrived at F&M, Schmid, a Lititz native, graduated from East Stroudsburg University with a degree in sociology and criminal justice, worked for Lancaster Probation and Parole, and then at Erb Bros. Landscaping.
At F&M, he hit the ground running – “I had to learn fast” – and moved up the ranks. His first 15 years on campus, he supervised the S.W.A.T. Team, which involved him in athletics, events and public safety. Schmid learned how the campus, the community, and the College worked.
“I’ve always based my decisions on having the best interest of the College in mind,” he said. “If I have the best interest of the College in mind, then those decisions are appropriate.”
Some of the concert events he managed included Billy Joel, Indigo Girls, Little Feat, the Beach Boys, and Ella Fitzgerald, who performed on Williamson Field – “a great concert,” he said.
As director of grounds, Schmid immerses himself in his work, colleagues say. “One thing that has always impressed me about Ted is that he is always willing to be ‘in the trenches’ with his team,” said Nic Auwaerter ‘11, F&M’s sustainability coordinator.
“I’m the kind of person who likes to get out with the guys and dig in the dirt,” Schmid said. “I have a really good crew, hardworking, and very knowledgeable. I depend on them. They’re great and get the job done.”
If he’s not working in the dirt or answering someone’s question or helping plan an event, Schmid is ensuring an athletic field or facility is maintained and ready. For example, in 2006 and 2007, for the only night football games in the College’s history, he prepared Williamson Field with lights.
“Ted has been a tremendous resource for me since I got to F&M,” said Shawn Carty, senior associate director of athletics who arrived on campus 15 years ago. “A very conscientious co-worker, always willing to help out, always willing to go above and beyond.”
If not whizzing across campus, headed from one project to the next in his golf cart, Schmid is waking before dawn in winter’s gloom to help clear walkways and steps of snow and ice.
“I’m not one to stay inside too long; I like to be out and about,” he said. “I never wanted to be a boss who sat behind a wheel of a plow truck. I need to be out, shoveling with the guys. That’s how you tell how rough and tough things are out there.”
Among his many accomplishments are caring for the grounds by following the best practices in sustainability. He introduced single-stream recycling to the campus and was instrumental in the implementation of the composting of campus food waste as a top dressing for gardens and athletic fields.
As a member of the Campus Tree Advisory Committee, he helped the College achieve Tree Campus USA status from the Arbor Day Foundation for the last four years.
Auwaerter called Schmid “an empowering leader,” who takes “great pride in his work.” He supports students, including those in Greek life, with everything from their events to their waste and recycling needs, and supports his employees in their professional growth.
“He is a great communicator and brings together partners to achieve great results,” Auwaerter said. “Ted exemplifies the F&M community.”