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New UNC Housekeeping Director Darius Dixon will continue the department’s reform efforts

Housekeeping Services — the department once riddled with allegations of poor management and harassment — is filling in the gaps.

When the new housekeeping director arrives April 23, he will find himself at the helm of departmental reform efforts.

Darius Dixon, deputy assistant director of housekeeping at N.C. State University, will continue with the University’s goal of changing the department’s climate — and administrators said the direction it takes will be up to him.

“I don’t think that we’re going to presume to tell him you have to go do A, B, C and D,” said Carolyn Elfland, associate vice chancellor for campus services. “He has to decide where his energies and emphasis need to be.”

A lack of leadership has been a chronic problem for the unit in past years. The departure of director Bill Burston and assistant director Tonya Sell in the fall of last year left UNC scrambling for replacements as it attempted to address internal complaints.

A report issued by PRM Consulting Group — hired by the University — provided 45 recommendations for change in the department.

The recommendations centered on managerial training, better communication and a system in which more housekeepers can contribute to departmental leadership.

A peer advisory council of housekeepers has been established and meets biweekly.

“The University has been very proactive about implementing the recommendations,” said Ray Dubose, interim director of Facilities Services. “Darius will jump in and facilitate those changes.”

Dixon will take reform into his own hands under the leadership of Elfland and Karol Gray, vice chancellor for finance and administration.

Ongoing projects include managerial training and English as a second language training.

Remaining projects include examining salary data as well as the structure of the department, among others.

“We’ve addressed most of the concerns and will keep moving forward every day,” Gray said.

Dubose said he is eager for Dixon’s arrival.

“He’s going to hit the ground running,” Dubose said. “It’s going to take a while for him to come up to speed, but I expect him to do that in short order.”

The search and selection of a director was an intensive process, one administrators said was dedicated to the opinions of housekeepers and managers.

“It was very important to have input from the zone managers,” Gray said, adding that they received “incredible feedback” from hundreds in the unit.

“Darius was clearly their favorite, and he did very well in the interview process,” she said.

“He’s a seasoned guy. He has the maturity, the personality and the style that will fit well in our organization,” Gray said.

Elfland agreed.

“He impressed everyone with his ability to relate to people and build upon the efforts that we have started to create in housekeeping to create a climate that is respectful,” she said.

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Dixon declined to comment prior to his arrival on campus.

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