Bill Crist oversees the entire UL Physical plant: grounds, buildings, new construction, and maintenance. Despite the pressures and long hours of the job, he remains one of UL's most enthusiastic supporters. ultoday.com spoke with him recently.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in New Orleans, and moved to Lafayette to enroll at UL in 1975. I graduated in architecture in 1980. I worked in New Orleans for Ernest Verges & Associates for a year and a half, then I moved to Lafayette and worked for several different architectural firms and hospitals. In 1990 I came to work for UL as the campus architect.

Then it went downhill from there.

Just kidding.

You're in the middle of a $140 million construction boom, an administrative change, growing enrollments, and the fall is coming. Life must be hell.

Usually there's a lull between the end of the fiscal year-- June 30-- and the build-up to the fall semester. With the new administration, they understandably want to jump into the middle of the fire with both feet.

Consequently, I didn't get my lull this year.

So what's going on on campus?

Several things. Obviously, we're repairing & replacing sidewalks, we're washing buildings, we're in the process of putting together a project to refurbish all the bathrooms on campus.

That's aside from all the capital projects. We're trying to push the Girard Hall renovation project forward, we're working on the Cecil Picard Childhood Development Center, and the biggest, most significant, is the Student Union addition and renovation. That's the biggie.

But you still have construction projects ongoing.

Burke Hawthorne is going on, that will be finished April of '09. That project started as a request in 1982. So now it's moving at lightning speed.

We just finished the new turf at Cajun Field, and the Taft Street Parking Garage And we recently finished ACTR, the Legacy Park Apartments, and the Moncla Indoor Practice Facility.

Oh and I forgot, we're bidding Legacy Park, phase 1B. We're adding 3 new buildings to the complex, and that will add 160 beds.

The big thing is that the University has been strapped for money for decades. During that time, maintenance funding was limited, so that funds could be used to accomplish the University's core mission. We're excited that because of increased funding, the new administration is funding our work so that we can not only maintain, but improve and enhance the campus.

How many employees do you have?

184 in the Physical Plant Department.

How does that compare to other schools UL's size?

For the number of students, we're probably about 100 employees short of where our peer institutions are.

You and your people are always overworked, and understaffed. And yet, you remain one of the most gung-ho supporters of UL.

I think they feed off one another. If I weren't gung-ho, I wouldn't have survived here.

I'm excited about where we've been, I'm excited about where we're going, and I'm excited to be a part of this time in UL's history.

When I was an 18 year-old kid, I moved here, and this became home for me immediately. It's just been a part of my heart, it's been a part of my soul ever since. If I could afford to work here every day for free, I'd do it.

I just love the place that much.

You and your wife Pam make just about all the sporting events.

We make as many as we can. There are times at the sporting events that I realize I'm actually at work. But the truth is, I'm always at work anyway, I just happen to be at a sporting event.

And that's not a bad thing.

UL really is a beautiful campus.

Yeah, I think so. The original architectural design in red brick makes it a beautiful campus, along with the oak-lined streets. Now we have a lot of resources to work with to make it even more beautiful.

What's the prettiest part of campus?

I think that when the Student Union and Burke are complete, Cypress Lake will be the prettiest part of campus.

Once Corona and Olivier are removed-- which will be part of the Student Union expansion-- and the Union wraps further around, Cypress Lake will open up to Hebrard Boulevard and be a breathtaking view. That's the way we laid it out, with that vista in mind.

In all of your time here, what are you proudest of?

I think it's the fact that the new buildings we built on this campus have all been attractive, timeless structures that will have an impact for the next 50 to 100 years on the lives of our students. Pulling the designers into a set of standards-- construction, functional and esthetic standards-- that's what I'm proudest of.