By Raymond Coffin Jr.
A man or woman can spend a lifetime laboring backstage and working behind the scenes without ever stepping a foot on the stage. Without such people the show would fail to go on. After a movie is finished and the credits begin to roll, they may have their names buried near the bottom of the list, with hardly anyone taking notice. This fails to capture and appreciate their dedication and vast body of work they put in day after day. This is the story of one such man. A man who is seldom seen, rarely thanked, and yet is the pulse and heartbeat of our college. He comes to work day in and day out to ensure the safety of all, and keeps the place we love from falling apart at the seams. This is the story of an unsung hero. This is the story of Kevin Macklen.
Kevin is the Director of Facilities, which is no easy task in its own right. He is in charge of the day-to-day operations for all of RACC’s seven buildings. It falls on him to ensure the entire campus runs like a well-oiled machine, which it does, day after day. In addition to his role as head of facilities, he is also the Director of Safety and Security, and is responsible for the well being of every student, every faculty member, and every guest who walks through the front doors of RACC. To say that Kevin is a man with his hands full would be an understatement, but it’s a role he has accepted and embraced, and he performs his duties with dignity, class, and a smile, day in and day out.
Kevin was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in an era before Snapchat and smartphones, a time when you were just as scared of your friend’s parents as you were your own. It takes a whole village to raise a child, and Kevin certainly grew up in a time where that was as true as ever. He was one of seven children and the son of a police officer, and like the family-first man he is, admires his mother for raising all of them.
As a young boy in St. Basil’s Grade School, Kevin was an exceptionally bright student. He was an intelligent youth who excelled academically, and he recalls this time in his life fondly. Like many people of his generation, Kevin grew up in a time before VCR’s. That made every holiday like a spectacle, because those were the only times that his favorite movies would be shown on TV. He recalls waiting all year just to see the all-time classic, The Wizard of OZ. Waiting a whole year to see Dorothy walk the yellow brick road would instill patience and appreciation in young Kevin’s life, qualities that he still carries today. Other classics of his day such as The Exorcist, The Omen, and Star Wars were among his favorites as a youth.
Upon entering Carrick High School, Kevin would continue to excel in his academic studies, most of them being in the honors programs. He would also find himself successful in the carpentry shop all throughout high school, where he would learn skills that would be essential for success in the upcoming years of his life. Growing up in a house of seven siblings requires sacrifice on the part of everyone. As with most families, money was tight, and the hopes of college for all seven children wasn’t based in reality. So after graduating from Carrick High, Kevin entered the work force, shaping him into the trustworthy and reliable man that we know today.
Kevin would use his intellect and skills to quickly rise through the ranks to become a manager of the East Shore Office Building, which was a private company. Little did Kevin know, he was about to find the one place he belonged, a career and a lifelong home with RACC. In 1978 RACC was looking for a home of its own. They did this by purchasing a Holiday Inn, which became Berks Hall. In 1991 they were looking to expand the campus by purchasing the East Shore Office building, which became Penn Hall and is now renamed Weitz Hall. The former Director of Facilities approached Kevin, looking for a trustworthy person to join the RACC team and it’s ever-expanding facilities. A few years later, Kevin Macklen would be hired as the Custodial Manager, thus completing his initiation into the growing RACC family.
In the ensuing years, Kevin would prove his trustworthiness, as he continued to grow as a person and also watched RACC grow in the process. Leaders naturally follow their own path and march to the beat of their own drum. Like all good leaders, Kevin would never idolize any particular person. Instead, he would take positive characteristics from a variety of influential people, and make them his own. This would prove invaluable for his upcoming role as the head of two crucial departments. Eventually, he would be promoted to the Director of Facilities, and also, the Director of Safety and Security.
Although being the leader of two separate and important departments can be stressful at times, Kevin still finds a way to keep a smile on his face. He treats his workers with respect, and he always conducts himself with an easy-going, down-to-earth personality that has earned him the respect he deserves. Over the years RACC has gone through many upgrades and improvements, and Kevin remains happy for every student who will benefit from it.
“I enjoy watching the campus change for the better,” says Kevin when asked about what he likes about the job, and added this to top it off: “Most of all, I enjoy the comradely with my colleagues.”
Kevin has found a home here at RACC. Even through diversity and tough situations he remains calm and level-headed to always make the best decision for the greater good. Halfway through the 2019 spring semester, there were protestors on campus saying hateful things about women’s rights and expressing their twisted views. Uncomfortable and tough situations is where great leaders rise to the occasion. Kevin stood outside while the protest reached its climax; he was seen shaking hands with students, and brought a calming, peaceful energy to a tense situation. It is the accumulation of actions like this, and many more over the years, that has earned Kevin his prominent role as a director.
What sets Kevin apart from other directors is his ability to relate to every one in the RACC family, whether it’s his workers, security staff, faculty, and students. He is just a normal, everyday guy, and never places himself above anyone. Kevin, a father of two, has hopes that all parents have for their children: “That they stay safe and grow into productive citizens. I also hope they have children that are just like [them] when [they] were growing up.”
Kevin is much more than a paperwork director, and he is always thinking about the future and well-being of others. He cares for our students deeply, and also the faculty’s ability to teach them.
“I would like to see Berks Hall razed and a new academic building erected with state-of-the-art classrooms that are flexible enough to keep up with the ever-changing learning landscape,” says Kevin on the one change he would like to see happen on campus.
However, nothing in life is permanent, and Kevin will eventually have to retire. When asked for the advice he would give the person filling his position, he had this to say: “I would advise him/her to trust your employee’s knowledge of the campus and don’t be afraid to get in the trenches with them.”
And that is what truly sets Kevin apart: his willingness to get his hands dirty when he doesn’t have to. Not because he said it, but because he does it, day in and day out.
Kevin is a normal, every-day guy. He is down to earth, easy-going, and always makes time for a good laugh. Outside of work he enjoys entertaining family, cooking, golfing, and “floating in the pool with a cool drink in my hand.” He takes pride in everything he does. He gets annoyed by being interrupted when trying to watch his favorite TV shows, and dislikes people driving slow in the passing lane. He is one of the guys, a helping hand, and never one to shy away from a challenge.
He is Kevin Macklen, he is one of us, and he is right where he belongs. We are lucky to have him.
Author’s Note: I had brain surgery on January 19th, 2017. As soon as I could read and write again, I enrolled at RACC. Money was tight. My speech was awful, I had numerous medical issues, I was unemployed, and no one would hire me. I landed an interview with RACC facilities, without much expectations. The person doing the interview was Kevin Macklen, he hired me that day, August 28th, 2018. He didn’t just hire another employee, he changed the course of a life, and showed me that all people deserve a chance.