Craft Center grounds coordinator recognized as outstanding professional

From pruning sassafras and crab apple trees to repairing plumbing systems, the physical upkeep of a complex as varied as the Joe L. Evins Appalachian Center for Crafts is a big job.

Over the years one man, David Zabriskie, has supervised every single aspect of the center's physical plant, and has done such a superlative job that he's been chosen as Tennessee Technological University's 1998 recipient of its Outstanding Professional Award.

"In 17 years on the job, eight of which I have observed, it is clear that Mr. Zabriskie's constant commitment is to the best possible outcome," said Ward Doubet, Craft Center director. "His attitude combines extraordinary dedication to the Craft Center, genuine interest in the success of Craft Center students and programs, a thoughtful and creative approach to problem solving and a palpable lack of pretension or self centeredness."

Zabriskie was hired as building and grounds coordinator in 1980, before the center officially opened, to supervise the crews outfitting the five studios. Shortly after, he was asked to stay on to oversee all the center's maintenance and improvement needs.

The Outstanding Professional Award program honors a number of attributes, including commitment and performance, and also program introductions.

"Because of the austere budgets the Craft Center has faced since its opening, the hallmark of Mr. Zabriskie's management style has been cost-saving, increased efficiency and improved services," said Leo McGee, associate vice president for Academic Affairs. "He has ensured that cost-saving be a built-in part of preventive maintenance, equipment purchases, and efficient, organized service at the center."

Zabriskie works closely with the main campus' facilities staff, who have learned that they can count on him.

"David has made my job easier regarding safety and environmental compliance at the Craft Center," said facilities services engineer Jim Cobb. "Due to the distance from the main campus, I rely on David to be my 'eyes and ears' regarding compliance issues. His performance is excellent and has resulted in a heightened awareness of safety and environmental issues at the center."

In 1966, Zabriskie completed bachelor's studies in industrial arts at California's Chico State College. He went on to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela for two years, teaching carpentry to rural farmers through the National Agrarian Institute. Upon returning to the United States, he taught at a school with Spanish-speaking migrant students, and he also organized and helped form an alternative school in California.

He moved to Middle Tennessee in 1973 and, as a self-employed carpenter, began building and remodeling custom homes and farm buildings in the DeKalb County area. He and his wife, Karen, have three children, Joshua, Dominic and Anna.

Zabriskie received a plaque and a $1,000 cash award. The awards program, established in 1993, was created to recognize outstanding professional staff and to accompany existing awards programs for faculty and clerical and support staff.