Campus Closeup: Phil Pezzuto
One employee taking advantage of the MPSERS early retirement incentive is Phil Pezzuto (Plant Operations). He will leave NMU at the end of the summer with 30 years of service.
When the Saugatuck native first visited the university as a prospective student, he said the appearance of campus—its cleanliness and landscaping—were factors in his decision to enroll. And when he was hired as a heavy equipment operator and landscape specialist, it became his job to ensure that others would be equally impressed by the same aesthetic qualities.
Pezzuto’s duties have changed with the seasons. In the winter, he clears snow and orders seeds. As spring approaches, he starts flowers in the greenhouse and cares for the trees and shrubs at the nursery behind the Services Building. He splits the summer months between Kaye House, where he does general lawn maintenance and helps tend to the perennial beds, and other areas of campus planting and diagnosing diseases, if necessary.
Despite a longtime interest in horticulture, Pezzuto was not sure what he wanted to do for a career upon enrolling at NMU. Courses in forestry and soils piqued his interest in conservation.
“I was fortunate to get a job in something I actually went to school for,” he said. “The thing I like most is the variety. Most days it’s never the same so the time goes fast. I also like working outside.”
Pezzuto spends much of his free time outdoors as well. He enjoys camping and traveling. He also likes to fish, both inland U.P. lakes and the waters surrounding St. Joseph Island southeast of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where he and a cousin own property. Ironically, gardening is not one of his hobbies.
“I used to do that, but I have a major deer problem at my house,” he said. “It’s next to impossible to grow anything.”
The physical layout of campus, with new and expanded facilities, is the biggest difference Pezzuto has noted from his first day on the job. Buildings may change, but the attention to the greenery surrounding them has not, thanks to Pezzuto, his colleagues and related efforts such as the Adopt-a-Flower-Bed Program (pictured). Northern continues to earn high marks for overall campus appearance.