Keith Spain landed in Las Vegas courtesy of the U.S. Air Force and at UNLV courtesy of a friend who recommended he apply for a campus job. Today he's the second-place winner of the 2016 President's Classified Employee of the Year.
Tell us about your first job at UNLV.
I arrived at UNLV in 1999. A friend who worked on campus knew that the company where I had worked had recently shut down. He also knew my background in graphic arts and felt I was qualified for an opening at UNLV, so encouraged me to apply. I was hired as a duplicating machine operator here in reprographics/design services. Ten years ago I was promoted to production manager.
Do you remember your job interview here?
Yes. Bobbie Jo Childers interviewed me. I was a little nervous during the interview. Bobbie Jo kept laughing and telling me to relax and not worry so much. I learned a lot from Bobbie Jo. She was tough, but a good person and supervisor.
What are your job duties as production manager?
I oversee day-to-day operations, making sure jobs are processed through the shop and delivered on time. I currently supervise four staff employees and five student workers.
Are there job accomplishments of which you are proud?
I am proud of having been instrumental in helping the department grow and stay ahead of changing technology. For instance, we are making it easier for customers to do online ordering instead of filling out hard-copy work orders. Also, at the beginning of the 2015 fall semester we established the Rebel Copy & Send at the Student Union. It’s doing quite well and I’m proud to have been a part of helping Tom (Tozier, reprographics manager) and my co-workers accomplish that. We had the students, faculty, and staff in mind with the center's convenient location. A lot of them drop in between classes or at lunchtime. We try to get their work turned around as quickly as possible.
Advice you would give a new employee.
I give my kids (a grown son and daughter) this same advice: “Never give up. Go for your dream. There will be obstacles, but you can overcome them. It’s just a matter of what you want to get out of life.” Also, treat people with kindness.
Where are you from?
Norfolk, Virginia. My father was career Army.
What was your first job?
Right after high school I worked for General Electric on the assembly line, using a screwdriver to put the backs on those TVs with the big backs they made then. I put my little inspection sticker on each one. Three friends carpooled and worked with me, helping me with gas. I was young and it was all about having a little money and a fast sports car. I had no worries in the world. I thought I was all that and a bag of chips.
What happened next?
My parents encouraged me to do something different. I went down to the Air Force recruiting office and the next thing I knew, I was on a plane for Texas. It was the best move I ever made. It helped me get my act together and grow up, not that I had ever been in trouble. I had thought Virginia was the center of everything, but soon found out that it was a bigger world out there. The Air Force allowed me to meet and work with some great people and see places I never would have seen otherwise — places like Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the South Pacific, and parts of this beautiful country of ours. When I got out of the Air Force, I decided to homestead here in Las Vegas. I've been married for 29 years and have a beautiful family.
Recommend a favorite book or movie.
I like science fiction movies. I’m into Star Wars, and I like superhero movies. I grew up reading Marvel and DC comics, so I like Spiderman, Superman, Batman. If I’m watching TV, it’s probably the Discovery Channel, Nature, or the Food Network.
Hobbies or pastime?
I'm pretty low key. I love to golf when I can, but I also like doing things around the house. Last weekend I painted two rooms. Tonight I’m going to fix some sprinklers in the yard.
What would a dream vacation be?
I do like being around warm ocean air, but I also like Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and the Pacific Northwest, like Oregon. I like being where you don’t hear anything except the sounds of nature. It kind of puts me in a calm place. But, I’m easy. Someone wants to go to the beach, that’s fine. Somebody wants to take a trip somewhere else? I just go with the flow.
What Others Had to Say About Him
Vince Alberta, senior associate vice president marketing/communications/brand strategy:
"He has an attitude that epitomizes the Rebel way. He always finds the best in people and the situation, and is consistently customer-focused. He is willing to help anyone, no matter their position or the situation. I am proud to call him a UNLV ambassador but more proud to call him my colleague."
Angela Stone, administrative assistant IV, reprographics and design services:
"Keith never seems to have a bad day and his positive attitude proves to be somewhat infectious around the reprographics offices. He is truly a team player and a co-worker that will go out of his way to help his fellow workers in any way he can. He truly cares about those he works with and for. His dedication to the success of the department has increased our quality, morale, and the campus perception of what reprographics does for the university. He goes the extra mile to get the job done and at times has made sacrifices of his own time to get projects accomplished to the highest standard.
"Keith's dedication was most evident during the move of the Copy Center from its original location to the Student Union. Keith worked above and beyond expectations, which demonstrated his desire to ensure a seamless and non-disruptive change for staff and student customers. He extends his duties even more by covering for employees that are out sick or on annual leave to run Rebel Copy & Send, which requires staying until the store closes at 7 p.m. He does this while ensuring his other duties and responsibilities are met."
Additional Nominees for the Award:
- Theresa Boucher, Lee Business School
- Delores Brownlee-Conn, University Libraries
- Cassandra Davidson-Bryant, Academic Success Center
- Anna Drury, Lee Business School
- Theresa Farmer, Office of Decision Support
- Cherisha Gaitor, Campus Life, Facilities and Operations
- Ivana Goga, College of Fine Arts
- Brian Hedrick, Facilities Maintenance Services
- Karen Kita, formerly of the School of Music
- Sheridan Mahabir, School of Dental Medicine
- Monica Maley-Sidwell, Facilities Management
- Angela Martinez, Office of Alumni and External Relations
- Ruth McKoin, Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
- Monica McNeely, Academic Success Center
- Sophie Parise, College of Liberal Arts
- Elaine Rojas, Controller’s Office
- Jim Stinar, Campus Life Facilities and Operations