Groundskeeper Supervisor Tye McGee Digging In

Tye McGee, Groundskeeper Supervisor outside.
Tye McGee

May 07, 2024
Gonzaga University Communications | Spirit Newsletter

Tye McGee got his hands dirty working for Nelson Landscaping, then co-founded AM Landshaping and ran it for 29 years until he sold his interest a couple of years ago. He thought he had retired.

Then he ran into Gonzaga Plant Services Director Ken Sammons. The two had partnered on a lot of Gonzaga projects over the years.

“He told me Tim Hatcher was retiring as groundskeeping supervisor in the near future. Months later (Maintenance and Grounds Director) Tomson Spink contacted me and let me know the position was open, and Tim was sticking around to help the new supervisor with the transition.”

McGee applied and was hired. Retirement had to wait.

The new groundskeeper supervisor is a hands- on boss. He still likes to get his hands dirty. You might see him on campus planting a new tree or trimming bushes. But he is still learning from his longtime crew members some of the nuances of this campus and finds Gonzaga “a place with really good people. I am happy to work with humble hearts.”

“Obviously, this is a beautiful campus,” McGee says. “We have visitors all the time who just stop by to walk our campus. I’m convinced the Jesuits, who had seen more advanced development in other parts of the world, saw this site 150 years ago and knew this space was something special.”

McGee and his previous company have helped shape the modern version of the GU campus, building athletic fields, the Johnston Family Mall, and its east and west extensions, the Grotto and Bulldog Alley among other projects.

Now he is charged with all groundskeeping responsibilities on this 150-acre, riverfront property. He is examining how lawns meet beds, where overgrown beds need to be thinned, and is about to experiment with replacing some lawn in less traveled, shady areas with micro clover, which only needs watering once a week, only needs mowing twice a year and blooms to a brilliant green which looks like lawn from a distance.

Tye McGee, Groundskeeper Supervisor outside with a tractor.
Tye McGee had worked on GU campus projects for nearly 30 years before signing on a groundskeeper supervisor in November 2022.

McGee says diverting budget and human resources to higher visibility spots on campus makes this a suitable change.

Grounds crew numbers 11 individuals, plus McGee, and is responsible for collecting campus garbage and maintaining campus pathways and roads during winter snowstorms, as well.

They have 12 Kubota RTVs, all with plow blades, pickup trucks with plows and deicing units, a skid steer loader and backhoe loader. “This equipment is used all day, every day, all year long,” McGee says.

“This takes a lot of work; it never stops and we never catch up.”

But for now, “This beats retirement,” says McGee.

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