Dale Nenadal started working on campus before it was even Case Western Reserve University. In 1967—just before the federation of Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University—he joined the Western Reserve staff as an electrician’s assistant at the age of 19.
Since then, he’s seen a number of changes at the university, from the leadership (he’s been here for the tenure of 10 university presidents) to the buildings (there were 86 when he started; now there are 117).
“I’ve seen a lot of buildings taken down, and a lot of new buildings put up in their place. When I started, Clarke Tower was just being built,” he said. “That’s the most exciting part of being on campus—to watch everything grow and expand.”
On Tuesday, Nenadal’s career with the university will come to a close, as he retires from his position as electrical supervisor. He’s overseen the university’s electricians for 35 years, as they maintain the electrical systems in all campus buildings.
He’s logged nearly 98,000 hours doing so—fulfilling his regular daytime duties while also chipping in during night and weekend emergencies. For example, during the widespread blackout of 2003, he and his colleagues had to make sure the generators ran consistently and provide necessary electrical assistance at all hours, especially to help keep the labs up and running. It was a stressful situation that Nenadal simply described as “a lot of fun” to handle.
He used that same description when remembering another high-powered event: the 2004 vice presidential debate at Case Western Reserve. The event stretched the university’s electrical capacity, requiring 10 extra generators be brought in for the TV stations set up on Van Horn Field, not to mention the extra work done in Adelbert Gym, the Veale Center and Horsburgh Gym.
And though he’s thoroughly enjoyed his tenure at Case Western Reserve, when asked if he wants to stick it out for another year or so to hit the 100,000-hour mark, Nenadal was quick to respond: “No. I’ve had a full career here.”
After putting in such long hours over the years, Nenadal deserves a little break—which he plans to take. In retirement, he hopes to travel and play golf. His first planned trip combines both goals: He’s heading to Alabama with a former coworker to play the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a collection of 11 championship-caliber golf courses.
But what does he plan to do on his first day off? Read on to find out.
1. What is your preferred mode of transportation and why? I use my car a lot. That’s partially because I’m on campus a lot, driving from Point A to Point B, and then walking a little bit from where I have to park.
2. What’s next on your reading list? Book-wise, I don’t read much, but I’m going to try to catch up on The Plain Dealer.
3. What has been the most rewarding moment for you while at Case Western Reserve University? Probably the VP debate: having it go off without a hitch, no problems. I really enjoyed working with all the people I worked with—the contractors as well as all the management staff here—to make it go off well.
4. If you had a day to do whatever you wanted, how would you spend it? I could tell you for sure that on Oct. 1, it’s going to be to sleep. I’ll catch up on my sleep, and then just sit back and relax. It’s been a lot of running over the years. There’s a lot of preparation to have the students come back, so it’ll be rest time.
5. What is your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve? The grounds and the campus itself. Every year it changes; every year it gets more beautiful.