SUNY Canton Maintenance Supervisor Reflects on College’s Essential Physical Plant Workers
Derek J. Bateman credits the good people he works with at SUNY Canton for helping the college weather the pandemic.
Bateman was recently promoted to Maintenance Supervisor 3 in the college’s Cooper Services Complex. He oversees 17 individuals in the HVAC, plumbing, trades and electrical departments.
He began his career as a temporary employee in the carpentry shop in 2002. He then earned two certificates and an Engineering Technology associate degree at SUNY Canton. In 2007, he was hired for the full-time position of plant utilities engineer 1, a major career accomplishment after earning a degree in the field. Bateman was previously promoted in 2013 to plant utilities engineer 2.
Individual success is not Bateman’s entire point of pride, and he shares admiration for all of the staff members he works with on a daily basis. He and all of his colleagues were deemed essential workers at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire physical plant contributed to the most memorable accomplishments during his 18-year career.
“We worked responsibly, we showed up to work everyday knowing the dangers of the virus,” he said. “I think this shows the dedication the employees, from management down, have for this college.”
Bateman shared pride in the achievements of all of the essential employees who kept the college running while faculty, staff and students were working – and learning – remotely. The college’s Physical Plant employees conducted a deep cleaning and sanitized the entire campus; helped package and mail students’ personal items; constructed plastic barriers for employees who would be working face-to-face with the public; replaced ventilation filters and installed AtmosAir Bipolar Ionization units; among many other tasks. He said while guidelines and recommendations were changing weekly, college employees managed to work safely and follow all the protocols.
“We did it,” he said. “We prepared the college for the students’ return. It’s because of the way the College treats its employees, and the enjoyment people get from working here. They say if you surround yourself with good people, good things happen. And I think that’s what happened here.”
Bateman resides in Ogdensburg with his wife, Ginny, and their two daughters. His future plans include watching SUNY Canton grow, prosper and become an even more successful educational facility.
As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.