For 45 years, Leonard Cook has helped Virginia Tech make a lasting impression
Leonard Cook has spent the last 22 years as a housekeeping supervisor ensuring campus buildings make a great impression on students, faculty, staff, and visitors. For some people, that’s a full career, but for Cook it’s less than half of his service to Virginia Tech.
Cook has worked at the university for 45 years. He began as a wage employee for Dining Services in 1970. Three years later, he became a housekeeper and spent the next 20 years taking care of Cassell Coliseum and other athletic facilities. He began his current position in 1993 and is now working under his sixth university president.
“I’ve done a number of things that aren’t typical for most housekeepers. I got to watch a lot of games and meet all of the coaches when I worked over there,” said Cook. It wasn’t all fun though. He and his co-workers had to get the coliseum ready for games, including installing the floor, and then cleaning up afterwards.
Cook has seen a lot of changes on campus and to the way buildings are maintained. Cleaning chemicals and equipment have become more complex requiring extensive training. When he first started, housekeepers used hand-controlled floor scrubbers and buffers that were often difficult to maneuver. Today, they have sophisticated equipment that can be customized to treat various surfaces.
It was the benefits that first attracted Cook to Virginia Tech, including health insurance which later helped cover the cost of two knee replacements.
“The benefits were attractive when I started and turned out to be important later on,” said Cook. “I liked working here so I just stayed. Time sneaks up on you.”
Now, Cook supervises 13 housekeepers who service the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute facilities, Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1, Food Science and Technology facilities, and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
“Leonard has an exceptional work ethic and always has a positive attitude. He will go out of his way to help co-workers and is the first to volunteer wherever his help is needed,” said Brenda Kirk, housekeeping area manager, who has supervised Cook for 25 years.
“In the years I have known Leonard I cannot remember a time when he did not report to work during any school closing due to inclement weather. Even when only a handful of employees made it in I could bank on one of them being Leonard. To say he is dependable and an asset is an understatement,” said Wyatt Sasser, facilities housekeeping director.
Cook lives in Christiansburg and collects cars, both large and small. He has an estimated 12,000 Hot Wheels cars, but actually lost count years ago. In addition, he owns 15 vintage “real” cars, including his favorite, a 1957 Ford.
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.