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From scissors to semis

When it comes to events, K-State's Loleta Sump is all about the details


Each year K-State invites the public to campus to see what university life is like at the All-University Open House.

Loleta SumpWhile various groups across campus are planning interactive displays for open house, Loleta Sump starts counting yard-sign stakes, lining up helium tanks and making sure there are enough tables and chairs to accommodate each and every group involved.

For the 2009 event, that was 218 tables, 364 chairs, 16 helium tanks and 206 yard-sign stakes, to be exact.

As the manager of special events on campus grounds, it's Sump's job to think of every little detail.

Holding a ribbon cutting? Sump will need to know how many pairs of purple ribbon-adorned scissors you will need.

Ground-breaking ceremony coming up? Sump will be the one to go to for the gold-colored shovels.

But the All-University Open House -- which Sump has been helping with for 23 of its 30 years -- is more than tables, chairs and helium.

It is any and all logistics that someone else isn't thinking about.

For example, it's Sump's job to figure out where the Marching Cobras can park their bus and where they'll get lunch when they perform at open house.

Charting the delivery route for the tractor-trailers delivering the U.S. Army's "Strength in Action" display for open house fell to her. The display was in the heart of campus -- in front of Anderson and Eisenhower Halls – and making sure the five semis got where they need to be without becoming a major disruption was a bit of a chore, she said.

She also has to keep fire prevention in mind. Sump works closely with the campus fire safety office on such issues as making sure fire-retardant butcher paper is available for displays at open house and at other information booths throughout the year.

Her role, Sump said, is to see that things flow smoothly and to ensure risk-management, which includes security as well as fire prevention.

"In 1992, the AIDS quilt came to campus and we were concerned about security, so we took shifts," she said. "I can say that I've spent the night in Ahearn Field House."

Security's not exactly in her job description -- but Sump's not sure there is a complete description of her duties.

Loleta SumpShe started as a payroll clerk for the Division of Facilities back in 1982. Since then her duties have expanded. Besides special events, which she calls "her baby," she oversees payroll for the division, coordinates central mail for the campus, and heads up key control, room scheduling and a few other areas.

"You know when a change occurs and your boss says, 'What can we volunteer for before we get volunteered for it?' Well, I usually say, 'I know a little bit about X,' and they say, 'It's yours!'"

It's no wonder that Sump's talents have been tapped for logistically challenging tasks, which she's organized to a T. But she says she couldn't do it without the backing of others.

"I couldn't do it if I didn't have a great crew," she said, referring to co-workers in the Division of Facilities whom she depends on to run the heavy-lifting equipment and move the trash cans, tables and chairs where they need to be.

"That's what I love about K-State," Sump said. "The challenge might be in figuring out who to call, but once I figure that out, people bend over backward to see what they can do to help you.

"You just never know who that next call is going to be from."


Photos: (Top) For K-State's All-University Open House, and other displays and events on campus grounds, Loleta Sump is responsible for details such as tables, chairs and helium tanks -- and making sure they're where they need to be on time. (Bottom) Sump discusses where to put a large kitchen trailer for the recent military foodways symposium.