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Crisp and Clean

Since joining Swarthmore in fall 2016, Tyrone Dunston has brought a military precision to his role as director of Environmental Services (EVS). The proud Marine values order and tidiness—one colleague has been known to peek inside his office, look around, and exclaim, “Neat!” Working with his crew behind the scenes, Dunston hopes to establish Swarthmore as Pennsylvania’s cleanest college.

What should we know about EVS?

Our mission is quality assurance. We also manage the waste with much help from our Sustainability staff. Our vision is 80 percent of Swarthmore’s waste being diverted from the Chester incinerator by 2022. It’s going to take change of behavior, education, and homework. We’re designing waste bins and trying to be as uniform as possible throughout campus while addressing the needs of different buildings. We try to be productive, cost-effective, and meet campus sustainability needs.

How did your more than a decade of military service influence you?

In the Marine Corps, I was selected to conduct quality-assurance inspections, which included reviewing the barracks of high-ranked officers. These were officers I had to salute every day, and I had to make sure their beds were made tight and their barracks clean—all conducted with a white glove. I actually enjoyed it, because I could tell officers, “You did pretty well, but here is where you can improve.”

What drew you to Swarthmore?

I liked the diversity and the Quaker values. I visited the campus after I applied, and I found out that once you come, you stay here. Everybody seemed happy. And what do you know? Two days later, I was called in for an interview. It’s been a beautiful fit.

What do you enjoy off the clock?

Spending time with my wife—we’ve been married 33 years—or with my grandson. I enjoy fishing and working out, but I’m usually with family. We go to Ocean City, Md., one of my favorite places. It’s hard to take my mind off work, so I try to do things that relax me. My wife says, “You talk about the workplace more than any other place you’ve been.” And I say, “I guess that’s because I enjoy my work.”

So is your house incredibly clean?

Yes! I drive my wife crazy. She’s neat to the point where she cleans the house a lot, but I’m more structural, where things always have to be lined up. People come to our house and say, “You are a perfect fit for each other.”

Even here at Swarthmore, it’s not just about cleanliness. It’s about the structure, the presentation. You’ve got people coming in—whether they’re parents bringing students back to school, or the students themselves—when they first enter their dorm, if it’s clean, neat, smells good, it says a lot about what they’re venturing into. And a first impression a lot of times leaves the last impression.