Hedges Awarded for Excellence in Service
Andrew Hedges draws upon his own studio art expertise to ensure safety of students making the most of Dowd
By Laney Robbins '20
When surveying the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building, many observe the ebb and flow of students using the space to learn in lectures, experiment with various different media, and create unique expressions of art. What one may not immediately notice is the network of health and safety precautions set in place by Laboratory and Facilities Manager, Andrew Hedges (Art and Art History). His professionalism and conscientious work towards keeping students safe while learning, exploring, and creating, has earned him this year’s Nancy Keil Service Excellence Award.
In his undergraduate and masters programs, Hedges studied a variety of different studio art mediums. In the past, he has taught sculpture, 3D design, furniture design, and more before coming to Santa Clara University. Practicing his own art has given Hedges valuable expertise pertaining to how potentially dangerous media needs to be set up and handled. “I was interested in all that [during] my undergraduate [studies] and took as many classes as I could,” he says. Now, he is tasked with maintaining a balance between “total freedom and complete safety,” for which he is commended. Hedges states that “if you wanted to be completely safe, we would all just walk around in hamster balls, and then we would never hurt ourselves. We try to balance opportunity to do things with the risks of losing an eye or a finger.”
Andrea Pappas, chair of the Art and Art History Department wrote of Hedges, “Many people don't realize the potential safety issues with making and studying art, [such as] toxic chemicals, power tools, torches, particulate matter, etc.,” and gave her highest regards for the work Hedges has dedicated to keeping these dangers at bay.
Beginning at Santa Clara six months before Dowd was completed, Hedges helped to facilitate the move, seeing an opportunity to institute news safety policies. When asked how he maintains his standard of excellence in his work, Hedges boils it down to “just enjoying what I do.” Hedges said his work in implementing the safety policies was made easier through cooperation and collaboration with his colleagues. “We’re all on the same team – it’s nice,” he says.
The investment Hedges’ makes in the student assistants who work for him is “quite deep and really benefits the students,” says his colleague Kathy Aoki (Art and Art History). One of his current student assistants, Lilah Foster ‘21 (Environmental Science) said that during her time working for Hedges, she has learned the proper uses and safe operation of a wide variety of tools; how to tell of if the equipment is running correctly; and how to change out or calibrate tool parts. “It is a lot of fun to work with Andrew,” she says. “He is very good at teaching new skills and is patient when I am unfamiliar or hesitant at first.” She adds that “he has a great sense of humor, which makes patching holes in drywall and cleaning equipment enjoyable.” Foster describes her experience as a part of Hedges’s team as “refreshing and the best work environment I could ask for.”
Thanks to Hedges’ stewardship, students can freely focus on their studies and safely pursue their artistic expression through whichever media they choose.
About the Award:
The Nancy Keil Service Excellence Award is given “In recognition of staff having established a well-deserved reputation for sustained excellence and initiative in providing technical or administrative support service, and for consistently approaching one’s responsibilities with a professionalism that demonstrates dedication to the welfare of students and others and that leads by example.”