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OU announces custodial, landscaping services to remain in-house

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Landscape employees

Landscape employees pull flowers out of the flower beds near the South Oval March 26.

After several months of review, OU announced Wednesday that it will be keeping custodial and landscaping services in-house, as opposed to contracting landscapers from outside of the university. 

Findings from an assessment that looked into custodial and landscaping staffing levels, costs and quality of work, along with a recommendation to keep current staff, were given to interim OU President Joseph Harroz and Chief Financial Officer Ken Rowe. The recommendation was given full endorsement, according to an Inside OU article.

The assessment was conducted by Eric Conrad, OU vice president of operations and chief operating officer, and custodial and landscaping management officials and purchasing, according to the article.

In June, two OU employees told The Daily that OU Facilities Management held a meeting where Conrad told staff about the plans to assess the costs of landscaping and custodial services and that outsourcing options were being explored for departments in facilities management. 

Another employee said staff was also told OU would send out requests to outsource landscaping in July and would most likely hear back by November, leaving staff worried about losing their jobs. 

The Daily first reported plans to assess costs of landscaping and custodial services one week after the university announced a 69-person reduction in force June 13 and after 25 people in the landscaping department were let go during OU’s Nov. 1, 2018 layoffs.

According to the Inside OU article, Conrad said in a letter to Norman campus custodial and landscaping teams that he was grateful for their work.

“We are exceedingly proud that OU is able to provide outstanding service at one of the lowest cost models in the industry,” Conrad said in the letter. “While we will always strive to improve and set new performance goals, we can approach our work knowing we are cost-effective.”

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