Bryan Eldridge – Contributing Writer

The newly installed patio next to Mantor Library
(Photo by Bryan Eldridge)

UMF students are fully embracing the new patio in front of Mantor Library that was constructed over the summer, giving the campus its newest popular gathering spot.

The patio consists of three umbrella covered tables overlooking the Mantor green. With four seats placed at each table, the spacious seating area is often fully utilized.

Keenan Farwell, the Grounds Facilities Manager for UMF, lead the team that built UMF’s newest addition. Farwell has been the Grounds Manager for a year and a half. Coming into this role felt quite familiar for Farwell, having to own his own business in the field of hardscape.

Farwell noted that the enhanced seating and continuous use of the patio are both effective outcomes of the new install. “It created more seating area,” said Farwell. “It gets quite a bit of use at this point, even the lower seating wall.”

The patio was intentionally built with more than just seating in mind. “We put power in also so, we can house bands on top of there to play out over the green,” said Farwell.

Matt Breer, a senior at UMF and a new employee for the Mantor Library this year, noticed the interest that’s being taken.

“I think people really enjoy the patio being there,” he said. “The patio’s installment has done more than just attracting students; it’s also attracting business. During normal school hours,  there is usually only one free table (in the library),” said Breer, adding that “giving people a choice of where they can sit gives them a lot more freedom, and when people have those kinds of freedoms they’re more likely to give business.”

The grounds crew are responsible for the patio’s construction but aren’t the only set of employees to thank for the campus’ upkeep and appearance. The grounds crew for facilities often collaborates with the maintenance employees to make UMF look the way it does.

Tim Burnell, a longtime custodian at UMF, works in Purington hall and noticed the comradery. “There’s a lot of teamwork that’s going on with all the groups here in facilities,” Burnell said.

Nick Richards has been the custodial manager on campus for 14 months and noted the importance of both aspects of facilities working together to maintain both the grounds and the building upkeep. “Those two groups have to work together closely to make sure that all these areas are taken care of,” said Richards.

Both UMF employees were very student-driven when it came to their favorite aspects of the job. “Trying to provide the best customer service that we can and making sure that the students are as happy as they can be,” said Richards.

Students that wish to speak to somebody about a maintenance or facilities issue around campus have multiple options including to email facilities directly at