The first Gustie of the Week for this academic year is Dean Willaert, who has worked at Gustavus for almost nineteen years.
Willaert goes by many titles including Lead Groundsperson, Project Coordinator and Heavy Equipment Operator.
Willaert loves to work with his fellow team members and student employees, making him a well-liked faculty members on the Gustavus campus.
“My favorite part of my role is maintaining the grounds and keeping up the appearance of the campus with the rest of the grounds crew that I work with. As well as training, teaching, and working with the students that work with us in the summers,” Willaert said.
Willaert’s daughter, junior Gracie Willaert, admires her father’s organized and dedicated work ethic while simultaneously keeping an approachable and personable demeanor.
“My dad is a great Gustie of the week because he works really hard to keep this campus looking as nice as it does. He puts 100 percent effort into his work each and every day while also managing to be a friendly face to everyone he interacts with,” Gracie Willaert said.
This work ethic is a quality that is noted and appreciated by anyone that knows Willaert and is something that helps make Gustavus the best it can be for its students.
“My dad is a great Gustie of the week because he works really hard to keep this campus looking as nice as it does. He puts 100 percent effort into his work each and every day while also managing to be a friendly face to everyone he interacts with.”
-Junior Gracie Willaert
“My dad is the hardest working person I know. I’ve never ever seen him quit anything, even when it might be hard. I really look up to my dad for that. My dad is also really good at talking to people. With his positive attitude, he always has a smile on his face and will probably make you laugh if you get a chance to talk to him,” Gracie Willaert said.
Willaert enjoys working at Gustavus and is appreciative of the connectedness and community he feels part of.
“Gustavus is special to me because it’s a good work environment, and being part of the Gustavus staff in general is a good feeling,” Willaert said.
He also enjoys that his work on the hill benefits the students.
“[I enjoy] being part of the team that’s here to be part of students’ lives, and helping them out,” Willaert said.
Willaert especially enjoys the back to school season.
“Fall time is my favorite on campus because everyone is coming back to school, so there’s more activity going on, and you can’t beat fall weather,” Willaert said.
Willaert’s job is one that is key to helping the Gustavus campus run smoothly and creates a significant impact.
“I think my dad’s job is important because he helps keep this campus running smoothly. Whether he is helping with a landscaping project, plowing, putting lights up for Christmas, or changing a garbage can, he is always working on a task that will keep this campus an enjoyable place to be for staff and students,” Gracie Willaert said.
Willaert has a family connection to Gustavus as well and enjoys having a few family members in the Gustavus family, including his daughter.
“My favorite part of having my daughter and nieces attend Gustavus is that I get to see family around everyday. My oldest daughter and son in law are both Gustie grads, my sister also works up here, and I got to work alongside my brother up here as well until he passed away. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to work somewhere where they’re around family a lot,” Willaert said.
Gracie Willaert loves being able to have her father on campus and getting to show off all of her father’s hard work to her fellow Gusties.
“I like going to school where my dad works because it’s always nice to have a piece of home, even when I’m not far from it. Whenever I’m having a hard day, getting to say hi to my dad when he is out and about always makes my day better. It’s also really fun to see the projects he did around campus, and to be able to tell my friends ‘Hey, my dad did that!’,” Gracie Willaert said.
In Willaert’s free time, he enjoys being around others and appreciating the outdoors.
“When I am not working I like spending time with family, going out with friends, grilling during the summer, and cutting wood in the fall,” Willaert said.
Willaert is a strong, hardworking, and friendly presence around the Gustavus community that is dedicated to serving others and following through on his commitments. He is a light on the hill.
“I am really proud of my dad for who he is and what he does. In my mind, he is always Gustie of the week,” Gracie Willaert said.