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Chris Kopach Named Facilities Management Director
Kopach succeeds Al Tarcola, who is retiring after 28 years at the UA.
Chris Kopach started working as a custodian at 18 years old to pay his way through college. Now, years later, he is overseeing campus custodians as part of his new job as director of Facilities Management at the University of Arizona.
Kopach, who previously served as associate director of Facilities Management, was recently appointed director of the department, where he will manage 540-plus employees in campus custodial services, grounds services, utilities and more.
Kopach, 47, succeeds Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management Al Tarcola, who is set to retire on Sept. 1 after 28 years at the UA. Kopach assumed leadership of Facilities Management on July 12 as Tarcola began a vacation from the University that will extend until his official retirement date.
"Chris Kopach has demonstrated his excellent leadership and communication skills throughout his many years at the UA. Chris has earned the respect of the University community with an efficient, responsive and customer-oriented approach to his work," said Bob Smith, the UA's acting senior vice president for business affairs. "We are confident that the UA grounds and facilities will continue to flourish under his leadership."
As he takes the reins of one of the largest departments on campus, Kopach said his primary objective is to keep his employees working together.
"It's critical that we have teamwork amongst our management team and amongst all their staff because of the impact that they have on the University, from our grounds department creating that first impression, to our custodial staff inside the buildings, to all the trade shops doing quality jobs, to responding to routine maintenance and emergencies, to our utilities staff making sure that we've got the proper power for all the research," he said.
He said his vision for the department includes "having a cohesive group of 540 employees creating so much energy of positive goodwill, where they're working together."
Kopach started working as a custodian to pay his way through college when he was 18 years old. By 21, he'd moved into a management position, and he earned his bachelor's degree in business from Eastern Michigan University. He came to the UA in 1996 and moved up the Facilities Management ranks from a custodial crew manager to assistant director of custodial services to associate director of custodial and grounds services before becoming associate director of the entire department. When he was promoted to that position, he decided to get his master's degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix, which he completed in 2002.
In his new role as department director, Kopach said he plans to have a hands-on approach. He said he will keep his office in the Facilities Management Administration building on Ring Road just north of campus, near the bulk of the rest of the department's facilities, instead of relocating to the administrative office in the University Services Annex west of campus on Sixth Street.
"This is where the action is," he said.
Luis Rocha, director of custodial services, will move up into Kopach's previous position, he said.
Kopach spent last week meeting with managers, supervisors and staff in Facilities Management to get things organized and talk about his vision of teamwork in the department.
"It's overwhelming, initially, just to get the stuff organized, but I have been looking forward to moving up in a leadership position, adding additional responsibilities in my career, and I'm extremely excited for the opportunity," he said. "Being able to help people – whether it's for research, whether it's a building remodel project – supporting the University as a whole is really exciting."