Students First

Members of the USD groundkeeping team in a group.


Employees at the University of San Diego have always put students first, but it’s never as apparent than during the annual Employee Giving Campaign, when they contribute to student scholarships, academic programs, athletic teams and other initiatives that are important to the student experience. 

The university first launched what’s known as the Students First! campaign in 2015. That year, nearly 42% of employees raised more than $385,000. This year’s campaign reached 60% participation and has raised more than $750,000 to date.

Cornelio Gonzalez is one of two lead groundskeepers whose team of eight oversees the west end of campus. The team charged with the eastern end of campus
is led by Juan Minjares.

“This time of year, when the weather is warm and all the flowers are in bloom the campus looks wonderful,” says Gonzalez, who particularly loves to see the rose bushes around campus come back to life after their pruning at the first of the year. “Our goal is to make sure that everything is perfect for all the graduation ceremonies.”

Gonzalez has been helping to rally the troops since the beginning as captain of the team that includes groundskeepers and members of the transportation unit; it was among the first teams to achieve 100%.

“The Grounds Maintenance team has led the way across campus with 100% participation every year and Facilities Management overall is consistently more than 90% participation,” says Philip Garland, USD’s associate vice president for advancement and campaign operations. 

Gonzalez says his task is easy because his team is generous and everyone understands the importance of giving what they can to support students. 

“The first year, I talked one-on-one with each person, and each understood the need and the importance of helping students, especially those who might not have the ability to pay for school,” Gonzalez says. “All the people on this team have good hearts and they care about the students. Now, when they see me coming with the donor envelopes, they’re ready.”Krystn Shrieve

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