Head groundskeeper Jim Paris to retire April after nearly two decades

Published by Stephanie Martin on

Jim Paris, head groundskeeper and mechanic- Paris throws branches into the back of a vehicle. Paris loves to share the rich history that our campus holds in its soil and trees. Mason Ramirez / The Mainstream

Though natural resources students are often required to identify species of flora on campus grounds, few students overall could likely identify the master groundskeeper in charge of maintaining UCC’s significant tree inventory.

For 19 years, Jim Paris has been the head groundskeeper and mechanic, keeping the campus’s trees, flower beds and fountains meticulously tidy. He will retire later this April.

Paris took over after former head groundskeeper Larry Spielbusch passed away in 2015. Alongside three other maintenance staff and a new coworker hired in 2022, Paris keeps our 100-acre campus looking its best.

At 8 a.m. Paris is already at work trimming hedges, mowing grass and spraying weeds and insects — he is the only one certified to spray chemicals on campus. As well as keeping the grounds, Paris is also responsible for the upkeep of campus golf carts, ensuring smooth operation; he washes and maintains a whole fleet of vehicles.


Jim Paris, head groundskeeper and mechanic – Paris piles branch trimmings next to a campus golf cart. He does more than groundskeeping. He also is responsible for the upkeep of vehicles on campus. Mason Ramirez / The Mainstream

From relocating signs to going on a golf cart joyride, Paris says student pranksters have kept his job interesting, even after two generations.

Paris begins with a chuckle: “There was one time they took the fire extinguisher off the wall,” he says, gesturing toward the Student Center, “and at that time the door of the warehouse didn’t roll all the way down. There were three inches of space between the door and the ground.

“So, they took that fire extinguisher and stuck it (in that space) and pulled the trigger, emptying it into the warehouse,” Paris says. “It was a great trick; I really liked that. It was fun.”

Jim Paris, head groundskeeper and mechanic- Paris cleans up branches from the walkways in front of the Student Center. Paris enjoys interacting with the students. Mason Ramirez / The Mainstream

Through Paris, the stories of historic trees unmarked on campus live on.

A sequoia adorning the right side of the Swanson Amiphtheatre was donated by Sue Schaffer, the first female chair of the UCC Board of Education who spearheaded Congressional recognition of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians. She died in 2017.

The Peace Tree, planted in 2020 between the library and administration building, was grown from a Ginkgo hibakujumoku or “survivor tree” saplingthat outlasted the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

To maintain these historic sites — and campus in general — groundskeeping staff cleans up brush, trims trees and bushes, sprays for pests and weeds, pulls weeds and plants. They also help maintenance by picking up garbage and washing the sidewalks. 

Groundskeeping staff are always looking for students ready to get their hands dirty. For more information about available positions, speak to Ann Abel at the work-study counter in the financial aid department located within the LaVerne Murphy Student Center.

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