Since its founding, Maryville College has invested in the mission of doing good on the largest possible scale. To this day, this goal is exemplified by the incredible students, alumni, faculty, and staff who make up the college community. 2019 is our bicentennial year, and we are taking this opportunity to highlight some of the most notable individuals and the work they do to make our college and the larger community a better place.
This month we are pleased to highlight the most iconic staff duo - Ralph Goodson and Joe Everett. Joe and Ralph are well-known on campus for the excellent work that they do, their cheery disposition and friendly demeanor, and, of course, the pumpkin rolls Ralph's wife, who he endearingly introduces as, "Mama," sends to work with him each holiday season!
Ralph Goodson & Joe Everett
Maryville College Custodial Services
Meet Joe and Ralph!
Joe Everett and Ralph Goodson are Custodial Services Workers at Maryville College. Both born and raised here in Blount County, they are easily identifiable by their deep southern drawls as they make their way around campus in their infamous Maryville College pickup truck. Joe has been with Maryville College for 22 years with Ralph joining him on the custodial team 12 ½ years ago after retiring from Alcoa, Inc. Since then, they have been an inseparable and dynamic team!
Ralph and Joe were nominated by Suzette Donovan, Assistant to the President and Board of Directors Liaison at Maryville College. However, when others on campus were notified about the nomination, more than a few were eager to chime in on the amazing work that the two men do for the college. After several interviews, it was clear to see the impact that Ralph and Joe have made on campus goes far beyond the Physical Plant. Joe and Ralph’s commitment to excellence in their duties is renown among colleagues.
Caroline Stuart, the Event Coordinator at Clayton Center for the Arts, works with Joe and Ralph daily to complete event setups and transitions. “They’re always very patient, which is essential and hard to find in this industry,” she said.
They always make me smile, they always have a smile on, and everything is always done and ready. There is a lot of trust between us, which is essential to a professional relationship.
Assistant Director of the Career Center, Sarah Yeaple, echoed these sentiments. “They’re great at their job – always a phone call away and always willing to stay until the job is done,” she expressed.
I believe strongly that a workplace is not made by the work or the place, but is made by the people, and Joe and Ralph are perfect examples of that.
Sarah continued to speak on what could be called the “Joe and Ralph Effect,” saying, “Anytime you see them they are going to brighten your day. They are always going to say hello, call you by name, give you a hug, and see how you’re doing. Despite the fact that they’re very busy and they do a lot for the campus, you never feel like they’re not going to give you their full attention, which I think is impressive."
You never see Ralph and Joe and walk away in a bad mood. It’s impossible.
Ralph and Joe truly go above and beyond to make staff members feel supported and the result is a sense of warmth and care that eases the day to day work stress. Suzette explained it best as she shared a story from her first weeks in her new role assisting Dr. Bogart. “Last year when I was trying to get the graduation and commencement together, I was a nervous wreck, and they came up here almost every day just to make sure I had what I needed,” she said. “There is just so much that they do all the time that makes you just feel thankful that they’re here, and they never complain.” She went on to say how much their presence on campus meant to her personally. “In the morning when I see them at the front of the building as I walk in, they will both stop and ask how I’m doing - every day. There is not a day that they don’t.”
Becky Davis, Assistant Admissions Director for Communications, also chimed in with a story, “One day I had parked at Cooper, and it was raining. Joe didn’t skip a beat. He was like, ‘I’ve got you.’ And he drove me to Cooper in the truck! It’s just the little things that all add up.” She said, “And even when he is having a hard day, Joe will say, ‘I’ll do this for you.’"
"In my eyes, they have hung the moon, so there must have been a work order for that – because they did it right.”
This special treatment of others is not limited to faculty and staff, Joe and Ralph aspire to treat students like family, first by making themselves available for facilities support, and second by attending games, concerts, and other events showcasing students’ talents and interests. Joe simplified his heart behind these actions saying, “When a student comes here, [sometimes] they’re homesick. They come far away from home, and it kills the parents to have them so far away."
I am here so when a student is having a sad day; I’ll speak to them and say good morning to them. I think that makes them feel seen. I’ll tell them, ‘My names Joe, this here’s Ralph, and if you need anything, you just let us know.’
“They’re very intentional about building and cultivating relationships. They ask to be introduced.” Becky admitted, “Ralph probably knows more students than we do in Admissions. He’s always at football games and plays. He will rattle player stats off to me, too!” Caroline laughingly agreed, “I actually met Ralph and Joe as a student first. Ralph heard me sing at a student recital, and now he tells everyone, ‘This girl can sing!” - Even clients! He’s one of those Grandpas that make you blush.”
Even Ralph and Joe felt they had to share about how they supported and helped each other. Ralph explained,
There are things that I can do, and things that I can’t do. Joe can do things that I can’t do, and I can do things that he can’t do. We just work together. I don’t climb stairs very well at my age. If we’ve got a light change on the 4th floor, he’ll say, ‘I’ll get it. Stay in the truck.’
Joe followed up with how their working relationship has become far more than that. “We actually hate to take off to go on vacation or [if we are sick], because I hate to leave Ralph in a bind,” Joe said. “I assure you that before Ralph leaves somewhere, he’ll say, ‘Joe, let’s get this done where you won’t have all [of] this [to do],’ you know.” He went on, “When somebody’s sick, we keep in touch with each other. I’ll call him and say, ‘How are you doing today, buddy?’
Joe got teary-eyed when he talked of the longevity of their partnership,
It’s been a wonderful 13 years with Ralph, and nobody will ever be able to replace him, not for me. He stays right with me. It’s just amazing how we work together.’
Joe even sneaked in a tip about “Mama,” Ralph’s wife of 55 years. “You’ve just got to meet Vicky. She is the sweetest, warm woman I’ve ever met in my life. She is just like him. She’s unreal. Anything that she cooks, I don’t know what she does to it, but it’ll melt in your mouth. She’s cooked for me a lot. She makes me cakes for my birthday.” In truth, everyone interviewed mentioned “Mama’s” cooking, particularly the pumpkin rolls that she cooks for friends at Maryville College each holiday season. Some even joked that this is what sparked Suzette’s nomination!
While the infamous pumpkin rolls are memorable and add to the magical effect that Joe and Ralph have on campus, faculty, staff, and students are thankful for the everyday impact of the work that the two men seemingly do so effortlessly, the integrity they portray, and the warmth that they demonstrate just by being who they are.
They do good on the largest possible scale, without a doubt,
said Becky, in closing.
And we would be lost without them.
The Maryville College community is truly fortunate to have these two gentleman as a part of our supporting staff. Thank you, Joe Everett and Ralph Goodson, for doing good on the largest possible scale at Maryville College.