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Logistics Leader Don Libby, associate director of University Facilities, keeps track of a campus on the move. By Karen McCally
photo of a don libby STAR STRUCK: “I have made lifelong friends,” Libby, who retires this year, says of working with the University’s facilities staff. “I have been blessed to work with these amazing people. There are just so many. They’re shining stars.” (Photograph by J. Adam Fenster)

Last March, when residential life staff were confronted with the necessity of moving close to 400 students in a single day, they weren’t sure just how it would be done. Don Libby was more confident.

“I had done logistics in Iraq,” says the veteran who once performed both operations and logistics on the staff of Gen. Martin Dempsey.

That job involved “moving thousands of troops and civilians and all the gear and figuring out how to get everybody to where they needed to go with everything they needed when they arrived. So that came in really handy.”

And yet it was less his military precision than his soft touch that colleagues say distinguished Libby during that challenging time.

“Don has been the University’s on-the-ground leader, moving students and their belongings from place to place, making sure the quarantine and isolation spaces have been properly equipped with everything students need, and—probably most importantly—doing everything with a reassuring attitude that lets students know that things will be fine,” says Pat Beaumont, interim senior associate vice president of University Facilities and Services.

Libby credits colleagues from multiple offices. “Jim Chodak and Tim Coughlin from Parking and Transportation helped set up the buses,” he says. Libby stepped out of his customary role and directed traffic in the parking lot; Chodak did the same, helping students lift and move belongings, as he was dressed in shirt and tie. Libby moved some of the students himself, in his own truck.

Throughout the summer, as students arrived in waves for quarantine both on and off campus in advance of the fall semester, Libby oversaw the complete sanitation of the units before arrival and after departure. “Housekeeping staff has been stretched very thin,” he says. But staff members such as Dewan Perry and Randy Poole, he added, went well beyond their assigned responsibilities helping to furnish the units.

As fall approached, he had another large task: ensuring that ventilation systems on the River Campus and at the Eastman School of Music were compliant with state regulations issued in response to the pandemic.

Libby retires at the end of 2020. “I have made lifelong friends,” he says. “I have been blessed to work with these amazing people. There are just so many. They’re shining stars.”