A woman leaning against a railing
Sarah Banwarth serves as director of facility planning and operations for the School of Business. (Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

Building managers thrive on the unpredictability of their work

They deal with everything from replacing burned-out lightbulbs to moving furniture. Nominations are open for the second-annual Building Manager Awards.

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Building managers never have a dull moment at work.

“You never know just what is going to happen,” Sarah Banwarth said. “I’m hardly ever in my office. I’m constantly running around, checking on things. Some days I get hit with things I didn’t know I would have to deal with.”

Last December, Banwarth, formerly a building manager for the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, and King Goldman, building manager for VCU Development and Alumni Relations, received the first annual Building Manager Awards, sponsored by VCU Facilities Management, during the annual building manager meetings.

The Building Manager Awards recognize one building manager on both the Monroe Park and MCV Campuses who has gone above and beyond their responsibilities to serve building tenants and the VCU community, demonstrate the values of VCU and address the needs of the building(s) they serve. Both Banwarth and Goldman received a one-time $500 award. 

In their roles, building managers are responsible for making sure the facility they oversee is functioning properly. Each VCU school, department or building has a building manager or managers serving as a liaison and primary point of contact between their group and Facilities Management and VCU Safety and Risk Management.

“Our building managers are the eyes and ears in the building. We really rely on our building managers,” said Margaret Kelland, campus coordinator manager, Monroe Park. “They are our partners.”

Kelland served on the committee that chose the two winners.

“We sent out a survey to the VCU community and asked for nominations. We received 75. Our committee met to pick one winner from each campus,” she said. “There were lots of similar qualities. It was hard to pick because so many of the nominations were good.”

This year is Banwarth’s 13th year at VCU. She started as a business manager for the information systems department in the VCU School of Business. Since winning last year’s Building Manager Award, Banwarth has been named director of facility planning and operations for the School of Business.

“When the opportunity arose that our current building manager was leaving, I felt it was a good opportunity for me to apply for that position,” she said, who started in that role in May 2015. “I have grown and evolved with the position. It’s such a unique role at VCU.”

Because the work building managers do is in the background, people have said to Banwarth they knew “things got done but they didn’t know who did them.”

“Some things just have to get done and you step up and do it,” Banwarth said, acknowledging that it’s a team effort. “It really takes a village. We have an amazing team of people that help make everything run.”

A man smiling wearing a hardhat and safety glasses
King Goldman is a building manager for VCU Development and Alumni Relations. (Contributed photo)

Goldman started his job as a building manager in 2016 after working at VCU Health in a different role.

“I am responsible for everything in the building I oversee at 111 N. 4th St. that is not IT related,” he said. “I do everything from hanging decor to moving furniture. I like the fact that I get a chance to interact with all the different teams.”

When he fixes something, it gives him a feeling of accomplishment, Goldman said.

He gets to learn from the various technicians, electricians, carpenters and plumbers (in Zone 300, the Clay/Leigh Street zone, one of four maintenance zones) he works with in his job.

“I implement what they teach me,” he said. “I like learning from them.”

Winning the Building Manager Award was less of a shock to him than finding out about his actual nomination, he said.

“I had a lot of nominations,” he said. “After the award was announced, they gave me an opportunity to see the nominations. People sending them in had to put a lot of thought into this, and I was really humbled by it.”

The annual Building Manager Awards nomination process is open until Oct. 7. VCU faculty and staff can complete the nomination form linked here to nominate a building manager who has served at least one year in the role, has not previously won the award and deserves to be recognized. Winners will be announced in late 2022.