Regent’s Unsung Heroes: Josh Bennick, Caring for People and Place
Fall 2022 is here! As we welcome faculty and students back to class, we’re also celebrating the staff members whose hard work brings teachers and learners together. This month, we’re delighted to introduce a few of the unsung heroes working behind the scenes to keep Regent open, accessible, and hospitable for our whole community.
Meet Josh Bennick, Regent’s Human Resources Coordinator and Building Operations Manager. In this interview, Josh explains his role at the College and the importance of attending to the "gritty details" of life together in a physical space. To learn how you can help care for Regent's building, visit rgnt.net/place.
Josh, how would you describe your role at Regent?
So, I really have two roles. I’m the HR Coordinator, and I’m also the Building Operations Manager. Broadly speaking, I care for the people and the place.
I do a lot of work with student employees, and I supervise the team of people who clean and maintain the building. I also work on maintenance and replacement plans. As a building ages, things need to be replaced—that's just part and parcel of life inside an actual physical place. That takes money, time, people to do the work, and a lot of planning and coordination.
You’re also very involved in emergency management, which has definitely been relevant over the past few years. What has that part of your job been like?
It’s been very challenging! First you had Covid, obviously. I was very involved in developing Covid safety plans. As we all know, protocols were constantly changing, and everything was very new. We were dealing with things we’d never dealt with before.
Throughout the process, we were trying to balance safety and accessibility. We did a lot of work to make Regent as accessible and community-friendly as possible while keeping our faculty, staff, and students—as well as the local community—safe. Needless to say, we’re all relieved to have things looking more normal these days!
Of course, the pandemic wasn’t the only thing happening. In December 2021, we had a big cold spell here in Vancouver. The freezing temperatures burst a sprinkler on our lower level, flooding four classrooms and some other areas. We were able to reopen the classrooms in March, but then we found out that the same freezing conditions had knocked out most of our cooling system. So we’ve been working on that this summer.
Vancouver has seen a lot of extreme weather lately, and that trend is expected to continue. How does that affect your thinking going forward?
Right. You know, in 2021 alone, Vancouver went from a heat dome, to massive flooding, to massive freezing, all within six months. As we’ve seen, buildings in this part of the country just aren’t constructed for extreme weather for long periods of time. So I’m thinking about how to respond on behalf of the institution to our physical needs. These are important issues because these extreme weather events aren’t just one-offs now. They’re happening more frequently, and that’s not going to change.
How do you find yourself drawing on what you learned as a Regent student in the work you do now?
The path from my theology degree to my work isn’t a straight path. But I think a lot about how we treat people. How can I serve people and an institution well? The answer is different depending on your role.
Does that speak to some of the themes of marketplace theology?
Yes. We need people doing excellent work in different areas. Coming alongside people is good, praying for people is good. You need those things. But not every person in an organization is going to be serving those particular purposes in their daily work. They can still be serving the larger purpose.
How do you see your work fitting into the larger purpose of Regent?
Really, it comes back to caring for people and caring for place. People need care and places need care. They need time and attention in order to function well. That’s my role. That’s how I help Regent fulfill its mission.
Managing a building like Regent’s is complex and expensive. It’s an area where donors can really help out, but it doesn’t always feel very meaningful to people. How do you think about this?
No one gets super excited about the gritty details of running a place like Regent. It doesn’t tug at the heartstrings. You think, “that’s just the normal institutional work that a place does.” But that normal institutional work makes it possible for Regent to exist. We do our best to maintain a clean and safe building that facilitates students’ learning and the work done by faculty and staff. If you didn’t have that, you wouldn’t have the learning that happens in classrooms.
This is what the Caring for Place project is all about. When you give toward upgrades and upkeep of Regent’s facilities, you’re caring for embodied people in embodied spaces. It’s not glamorous, but it’s important.
Regent's building needs some key upgrades and upkeep to continue meeting the community's needs. Would you help care for this place? Donate by October 7 to double your gift!Give Now