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Profile: Rob and Scott Schroeder

Date: August 28, 2000

This family's tree strongly rooted at UC

Groundsman Rob Schroeder's schoolboy-strong pride and affection for his university are rooted as deeply as his memories. Go back far enough, and Rob will tell you what it felt like to be a six-year-old shaking hands with men of national stature.

He lists them without pausing take a breath: sports greats like basketball coach Gale Catlett; basketball player and coach Tony Yates; football coach Tony Mason; basketball player and coach Tay Baker; basketball player and later women's basketball coach Tom Thacker; as well as academic leaders like Sam Wilson, one-time dean of UC's Law School, who also served as "Judge Paul Trevor" on a locally produced show called "Juvenile Court."

Rob Schroeder

"UC is part of my earliest and best memories. When I was a little kid, I would come up here with my Dad (a UC painter). We would come to the paint shop. I would see students and working colleagues of my Dad's. I remember coming to the Armory Fieldhouse to see Tay Baker. These are really good memories. I was always excited to go where my Dad worked. My Dad knew the coaches and players and would introduce me to them. I was thrilled. I was ecstatic," recalled Rob.

Later when Rob was attending Elder High School and writing for the school newspaper, his father, Bob, would arrange for his son to interview some of the country's most respected academics in connection with assignments from the paper. "My Dad set it up so I could interview Sam Wilson, dean of the law school, Tony Mason and Catlett. I had the best interviews for the school paper. My Dad was my biggest fan and promoter."

The same can be said of Rob and his own children. Rob, a Delhi resident who began working at UC in 1979 and eventually earned his baccalaureate degree in English literature here, is encouraging his own children -- Scott, Amy and even nine-year-old Stephanie -- to follow in his footsteps. Scott, 19, a 1999 grad of Elder High School is a UC sophomore in political science and works alongside his Dad on the grounds crew during the summers and part-time during the school year. Daughter Amy, 18, a graduate of Seton High School, will begin classes at UC this fall.

Rob and Scott Schroeder

Rob does hope, however, that the kids take a straighter line in their education than he did. He describes himself as unready for the transition to college after high school. That changed when he was older. So, Rob earned his baccalaureate over ten years' time and is now considering pursuing a master's. "It was wonderful getting a degree last year. I went through every celebratory ceremony they had...the all-university commencement, the evening college celebration...It was a lot of time and work, studying, coming back in the evening for classes. Sometimes, I just didn't feel like returning to campus and putting in another shift..."

He's quick to add, though, "I love UC...My Dad was here for 36 years. I've been here for 21 years. UC has done a whole lot for us." That includes bringing Rob and his wife, Mary Jo, together.

They were introduced by fellow groundskeeper Paul Land when Mary Jo worked as a secretary at University Hospital. She later worked on West Campus, and Rob recalls standing on the steps of the recently demolished Beecher Hall waiting for her to get off work. "I was sad to see Beecher go. It was important in our memories," he said.

Rob Schroeder

As a groundsman, it's not UC's buildings that really appeal to Rob. It's the greenery, especially the hundreds of shrubs and hedges. He trims and shapes them on UC's West (academic) Campus, the medical center campus and all points between. "They're like my babies, those hedges. I can't stand to see them ripped out."

As mentioned, he's joined in his work by son, Scott, who takes as much pride in his work as his Dad. "It's fun," said Scott whose duties can range from daytime hand pruning to 3 a.m. snow removal. "When you look at them (the hedges) from a distance, their line is pleasing to the eye," explained Scott.

Rob works every day to create good UC memories for his son. Recently, when trimming hedges between French Hall and Shoemaker Center, Rob saw former UC basketball player Corie Blount, now with Phoenix Suns, exiting the Shoemaker sports center. "He remembered me from when he played here. I introduced him to my son. Scott was ecstatic."

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