Jan. 25, 2023
Contact: Marcus Wilkins, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Abbie Lankitus
Video by Mizzou Visual Productions
When there’s something strange in your (campus) neighborhood, rest assured that Melissa Hayes has heard all the Ghostbusters jokes before you blurt out the rest of the chorus.
Although the 1984 film predates her time at the University of Missouri by more than a decade, Hayes has been on call for 26 years when urgent questions or problems arise in the MU community of nearly 50,000 people. As an office support associate in the Campus Facilities Customer Service Center, she is one of a trio that helms the customer service number posted throughout Mizzou websites. Hayes’ job — part switchboard operator, part dispatcher, part logistics coordinator — can be stressful and demanding. Yet she imbues it with positivity.
“Every time I answer the phone, even if I’m in a bad mood, I answer with a smile on my face,” Hayes said. “People call about plumbing, electrical concerns, locked doors or other general issues. If we’re not sure what the answer is, we can typically point them in the right direction.
“I don't know how to explain it, but I just love helping all the customers on campus.”
Hayes arrives in her office, located in the General Services Building adjacent to the Hearnes Center, at 6:30 a.m. daily. Festooned with black-and-gold Tiger memorabilia and seasonally updated holiday décor, the cozy space usually begins filling with ringtones around 7. Her contagious good humor spills out to her co-workers — with whom she shares a catalog of inside jokes and chummy nicknames to keep things light.
Of course, when serious phone calls demand it, Hayes is all business.
“Melissa is always cool and level-headed,” said Keith Schenewerk, maintenance supervisor with MU Facility Operations and Hayes’ boss. “Around the office, she is bubbly and fun. But when there’s a crisis — like during the recent sub-zero temperatures when we had several pipes burst around campus — she is always professional and pleasant as we receive phone calls.”
For Hayes, her role at Mizzou is more than a job — it’s a family legacy. Her father, Kenneth Vaughan, also worked in Facility Operations as a maintenance service attendant (and other titles) for 37 years retiring in 2000.
“I love it here, I’m a Tiger fan and I’ve always been a Tiger,” Hayes said. “I’ve had a lot of family work here. One of the things I look forward to is hanging my retirement plaque next to my dad’s someday and seeing our years of service side by side.”