Center for Excellence Honoree: Jim CavallaroJim Cavallaro's official title is superintendent of evening operations.
His unofficial title is grandfather-on-loan.
"I've been at Quinnipiac for 27 years and I don't plan to leave until I retire," Cavallaro said. "This is an excellent place to work and the students are fantastic. If I go to their dorm or their room to fix a problem, by the time I leave, I'm their friend."
In fact, Cavallaro could work the day shift, but he doesn't want to because then he wouldn't have as much interaction with the students, he said. While fixing a dripping faucet or a faulty heater, he is often asked for advice about romantic relationships or a conflict with mom or dad.
Cavallaro is one of six faculty and staff members who will be recognized at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students' annual recognition event on Thursday, Oct. 20, in the Recreation Center. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students encourages, supports and recognizes superior teaching and service to students at Quinnipiac.
"I was very, very surprised to be chosen and I really appreciate it," Cavallaro said.
Ed Kovacs III, director of the Student Center and student leadership development, nominated Cavallaro because of his "excellent work, patience and commitment to support student weekend programming."
"I am indebted to Jim for his continuous support of student activities," he said. "He never balks at offering assistance or tending to last-minute details. He is someone who works behind the scenes and quite often his efforts go unrecognized. I am grateful to Jim for his positive attitude and support of student programming."
Cavallaro said he never knows what will happen when he starts his shift at 4 p.m.
"This is a city, a city of kids," he said. "Anything that can happen."
Cavallaro is in charge of all academic and residential buildings and problems ranging from electrical to plumbing to heating and air conditioning. He supervises "an excellent crew" of 10, including custodians and technical specialists.
Cavallaro grew up in Hamden, and lives 10 minutes from campus. He is a graduate of Hamden High School and earned a degree from the Hartford Institute of Accounting.
He did accounting work for a while but soon tired of the routine.
"I'm a hands-on person," he said. His father was mechanically gifted and taught him everything from woodworking to sheet rocking. He also worked part-time for his brother-in-law, who owned a remodeling company. There he built additions and garages and learned the right way to install a roof.
On campus, he uses his accounting skills as well. He has also taken psychology and computer classes at the university.
Cavallaro said he has seen many changes at the university during his nearly three decades of employment.
"When I started here there were 3,000 students total and far fewer faculty and staff. I knew everyone back then and I'd see people almost every day," he said.
"Now there are more buildings and a lot more people and sometimes I don't see someone for six months at a time," he said. "But that happens when you go from a small college to a mid-sized university.
"When I started working here, no one had heard of Quinnipiac. Now we're a Division I school and our law school is so well known, and the list of accomplishments goes on and on," he said. "I've seen it evolve from a party college to one that is strong academically, with students who are here to learn as much as they can. My son graduated from Quinnipiac and he got an excellent education."
Cavallaro has a daughter, Kimberly, 33 and a son David, 31, who earned his bachelor's degree in business at Quinnipiac in 1999. He is also the proud grandfather of two girls, ages 8 and 13, and enjoys watching them participate in sports, including karate and gymnastics.
Cavallaro enjoys riding his motorcycle, restoring a 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and attending car shows, fishing and an occasional trip to the casino. A former downhill skier, one of his best vacations was spent skiing in the Swiss Alps.