Facilities director finds home at UHV
John Burke, facilities director at the University of Houston-Victoria, and his team spent the past few months preparing for the new fall semester, getting the residence halls and academic buildings ready for the onslaught of students who arrived this month.
“I’m working with one of the best departments I ever worked with in my life,” Burke said. “I’m grateful to work with the staff I have. Without them, there is no way I would be where I am today.”
Burke, a Sinton native, said his facilities services career started when he was 12. He swept the floor of a gas station.
After graduating from Sinton High School, Burke joined the U.S. Air Force. He served at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. His occupation specialty in the military was heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and refrigeration technician.
From there, he attended Coastal Bend College where he went through the agriculture science program. Burke went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M-Kingsville in agriculture science with a teaching option.
His journey took him to Victoria in 2006 when he was hired at UHV as a maintenance technician. He worked on the renovation of Jaguar Hall, converting it from a hotel to a residence hall.
Burke briefly left to work in Schulenburg for a company that creates 80 percent of the dips for Frito Lay in North America, but he returned to UHV in 2012.
“It’s been a wonderful place to work,” he said. “It was like I never left, to be honest. It was like coming back to family.”
By the time he returned to UHV, renovation work on Jaguar Court, the university’s second residence hall, was underway.
In April, Burke was promoted to director of the Facilities Department. He coordinates UHV’s facilities management and physical plant activities. He also develops and monitors budgets, short- and long-term objectives, and oversees the staff.
His goals for the 2016-17 school year include finishing a new practice soccer field where the Casa Del Rio Apartments used to be on the corner of Red River and Ben Wilson streets.
“The new field will take pressure off our game field and give the university a nicer field to host games,” he said.
Burke, 42, lives north of Hallettsville on a small farm with his wife and two children.
Burke said he thinks the university’s growth is an essential part of the Victoria community’s success.
“The main thing UHV is here to do is educate the workforce of tomorrow for the community,” he said. “By doing so, it will bring new ideas and businesses to our region.”
The introduction of another residence hall, a Student Center/Learning Commons and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math building also will add to the university’s exciting growth.
“With the continued growth of UHV, students will set roots in town and keep the community growing,” Burke said. “We’ll also have more graduates who are homegrown and fulfilling local workforce needs.”
Staff Feature is an online profile highlighting staff members at the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a staff member, contact Jeremy Shapiro, UHV communications manager, or call 361-570-4296.
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities, and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.
Carolina Astrain, special to UHV