Peter & the Goats

Goats -9024Peter Romero, Santa Fe University of Art and Design director of facilities and security, treats his job like he treats his own home. He is on call 24/7 (he has to silence both his office and cell phone during the course of a 20-minute interview), he doesn’t leave until everything that needs to be taken care of is squared away (“Last Tuesday I arrived at 8 a.m.,” he explains, “and went home at 12:30 a.m.”), and, most importantly, his staff is like family.

Romero, whose job entails anything from maintaining the roofing, heating and stucco of SFUAD’s buildings to managing the security on campus, is an avid believer in the importance of developing a sustainable and self-sufficient campus.

“I play many roles throughout the day,” says Romero. “I am father, brother, friend and colleague, but at the end of the day I think of my own daughter. I would like the students at this school to be as comfortable, warm and safe as I would wish for her when she leaves to college.”

Most of the jobs that Romero carries out (“I don’t just manage, I also do the work,” he explains) are crucial to the school functioning smoothly on a daily basis.

“If you don’t ask about what happens on this campus you don’t know,” he explains, “and what I do is mostly the behind the scenes work that people don’t even think about.” Then he excuses himself to make a few phone calls, organizing the SFUAD snowplows to prepare for the weekend’s forecasted snowstorm, before returning his attention undividedly to Jackalope staff.

Romero’s attentiveness to the school’s health extends all over the campus; approximately two years after he started working at SFUAD, Romero became aware of a problem with the copious amounts of weeds surrounding the arroyo at the east entrance to the school.

“We were spending money paying people to cut weeds,” he says, “so that wasn’t financially responsible. And we were using gas-powered weed cutters and herbicides to keep the arroyo clear, which was not ecologically sound. I wanted a solution that was more responsible.”

Over the summer of 2013 Romero, with permission from school President Larry Hinz (“He told me, ‘Peter, you’re nuts!’” explains Romero, “and then said, ‘well, how much will it cost?’), purchased two goats, Africa and Chico, to join the SFUAD maintenance community.

“We haven’t spent more than $50 on the goats since we bought them, and all they do is eat and sleep,” says Romero. “Needless to say, weeds are no longer an issue on campus.”

The goats (Africa, Chico, and two others that have been donated since, temporarily named for their coloring, Black and White) are a part of Romero’s staff dynamic. Security guards take turns visiting and walking them. One kid, who stayed on campus over the summer, was temporarily named after a security guard.

But Romero’s work does not end with a single solution like the goats. There is always something more to do. Romero gestures to a white board outside of his office, filled with to do lists in draw-erase marker, to illustrate this point. “When this board is as full as it is now,” he says, “you know I’m busy.”

The board, at the time, was filled up with jobs that needed to get done for SFUAD’s annual Shoot the Stars event. Romero and his staff were responsible for, amongst other things, the set-up and break-down before and after the event which, to most people, seem to happen of their own accord.

“My job,” says Romero, “is about doing the things that won’t happen if we don’t take care of them. You might not notice if we do, but if we didn’t things wouldn’t work around here.”