Despite serving students, faculty and staff for decades, Bob Jones University’s transportation department remains a little-known segment of campus operations fulfills many of the University’s needs.
Located behind the BJU Press facilities, the transportation department provides maintenance vehicles for campus services and travel accommodations for any conference, activity or sporting event affiliated with the University or Bob Jones Academy. The department maintains cars, minivans, pick-up trucks, full-sized vans, activity buses, school buses and motorcoaches to fulfill travel needs in any department.
Kurt Petterson, the operations and services facilitator, says one of the most unique elements of the department is its versatility. “My favorite part about working with transportation is that we get to work with so many departments,” Petterson said. “Everybody needs a vehicle at some point. What we really want is for transportation to be the easiest department you work with.”
According to Petterson, travel requests never stop, so the transportation team needs to be ready to prepare vehicles around the clock. Once the University requests transportation, and ready for use as soon as possible. If a vehicle needs additional service on the road or after a trip, mechanic Jake Deleeuwerk provides maintenance immediately.
The department remains very busy, Deleeuwerk said. Because he handles maintenance and repairs, he constantly tackles projects that need attention. “I do a lot of ordering and picking up parts, outsourcing, budgeting projects and work orders, but if an accident or breakdown occurs, they’ll call me,
Petterson noted that transportation needs tend to grow every year. “Any new campus initiative requires more transportation,” Petterson said. “With the addition of both the University and Academy baseball teams, as well as women’s sand volleyball, more vans and buses need to be on the schedule every week.” According to Petterson, the transportation team’s goal is to satisfy these ongoing needs while staying behind the scenes.
Longtime transportation staff member Dave Versnick has echoed this goal ever since he joined BJU’s transportation department. When Versnick arrived at BJU as a freshman in 1969, the department, he said, was already “alive and well.” “The entire facilities department is not necessarily supposed to be seen,” Versnick said. “We’re supposed to keep things going as seamless as possible.”
Versnick began in the transportation department as a work-loan student and worked in the auto shop after his schooling was complete. He said that the department used to buy and maintain World War II Army surplus vehicles, most of which were ancient to him. Versnick also taught until 2005 in what was once the auto-diesel program, which turned into BJU’s School of Applied Studies. He still enjoys working with the entirety of transportation. “I enjoy the variety,” Versnick said. “We use [machinery] like telehandlers, forklifts and generators, not just cars.”
According to Petterson, BJU’s transportation department strives to serve people and their travel needs as best they can, with as little stress as possible. “God has given us [a gift] that is more skilled that we can use to support the mission of the University,” Deleeuwerk said. “I like the fact that we’re behind the scenes. I like that we can do our work and serve while having our own area.”