University Environmental Services Team Completes Winding, Worthwhile Educational Journey

After a pandemic pause, Duke team members finish a professional certification program

A group of UEVS staff members
Duke University Environmental Services Executive Director Dr. Leslye Kornegay speaks at Friday's graduation celebration. Photo by Stephen Schramm.

Dr. Leslye Kornegay, executive director of Duke University Environmental Services in Facilities Management, had the idea of UEVS managers taking part in the program after having completed a similar program early in her career.

“I’m really excited for them,” Kornegay said. “I know what this did for me. It spring boarded me into a number of things. I’m just excited to see what they do with it.”

During the three-year journey – under normal circumstances the program takes between 12 and 18 months to complete – UEVS staff members learned about the science behind materials and techniques used in cleaning and gained a deeper understanding of aspects of their work such as pest control, recycling, accounting and workplace safety. They also completed coursework and group projects which build their skills in leadership and communication.

“No matter where I go from here, I think the better understanding of how to manage a staff will help me along the way,” said Pamela Bell-Jones, UEVS senior supervisor for the research portion of west campus. “I think there are a lot of tools that I can refer back to from this program which will help.”

Duke Vice President for Facilities John Noonan congratulates the Duke UEVS team during Friday's celebration. Photo by Stephen Schramm.

Upon completing the course and passing an exam, participants received either the Registered Environmental Services Executive or Certified Environmental Services Executive credentials from the Indoor Environmental Healthcare and Hospitality Association.

“This helps us add more layers and components to what we already do on a day-to-day basis,” said Asia Hicks, UEVS operations manager for East and West campuses. “There are so many different parts of environmental services, we were just touching the surface. This give us a better understanding of the business as a whole.”

The final coursework and certification exams were completed in April 2023, bringing to a close the winding professional development journey. While the participants said it was a challenge to balance work and family responsibilities, pandemic stress and the demands of the program, now with a deeper understanding of what they do, they said it was a journey worth taking.

“This experience united folks,” said Joshua Eaton, UEVS assistant director and program participant. “During the process, you saw people who never work together, and who may have different personalities, working on the same team and succeeding. In general, everyone was going through the same things, so the fact that it was drawn out, and we got through it as a team, makes it sweeter.”

The UEVS team members who completed the program are:

  • Asia Hicks, operations manager
  • Bernard Harris, sanitation supervisor 
  • Dekeita Hopkins, senior supervisor 
  • Jacqueline Little, assistant supervisor 
  • James Logan, assistant supervisor 
  • James Sunde, senior supervisor 
  • Joshua Eaton, assistant director 
  • Kenneth Villines, senior supervisor 
  • Kevin Jackson, operations manager 
  • Lashawnda Harris, senior supervisor 
  • Levi Rice, logistics support supervisor 
  • Maggie Nelson, senior supervisor 
  • Michelle Martin, senior supervisor 
  • Pamela Bell-Jones, senior supervisor 
  • Robert Burnett, senior supervisor 
  • Robin Jones, senior supervisor 
  • Wayne King, senior logistics support manager

Send story ideas, shout-outs and photographs through our story idea form or write