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After years of working on large, complicated, and unique multibuilding projects, Emily Mays brought her project management and construction expertise to Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The timing couldn’t have been better. ORU was experiencing an exciting period of expansion under the leadership of President William M. Wilson including multiple years of record-setting student enrollment. Because of that, it needed a design and construction leader who could help the campus change at the same pace of its growing student body.
For Mays, a devout Christian, the opportunity was a divine calling.
“I feel like God has been preparing me throughout my career to work for ORU and to work on multiple projects at once here,” says Mays, who leads a small but mighty construction and design team as its director. “I’ve had an opportunity to collaborate with the different departments within the university with various contractors, designers, engineers, Dr. Wilson, and donors to bring our synergies together and create something greater than we could achieve ourselves.”
One of the many strides that have come from that collaboration has been the “Whole Person Building” campaign. The effort, which was made possible due to the generosity of ORU’s donors and alumni, has aimed to transform the campus through four buildings tailored to supporting the next generation of leaders.
Since Mays took the reins of her department in 2021, she’s helped to oversee three of the buildings to completion in partnership with Thompson Construction and Crossland Construction. They include a student-friendly welcome center that sits at the university’s front door, a cutting-edge Mike Carter Athletic Center, and the 3-story J.D. McKean Library, a repository of over 80,000 books and various technological resources.
July 2024 will mark the conclusion of the campaign’s first phase, when crews finish the new Peggy V. Helmerich Media Arts Center. It’ll feature a 400-seat proscenium theater in addition to scene and costume shops, dressing rooms, a recital hall, a black box performance space, media rooms, music rooms, practice rooms, and offices.
For Mays, the campaign has been a testament to the strength of the relationships her team has forged with stakeholders and the commitment ORU has to its mission.
With phase one of ORU’s Whole Person Building campaign expected for completion in July, Emily Mays is already looking forward to what’s down the pipeline. The next phase will see the construction of a new dining hall, new men and women’s dorm tower, and a green space that’ll connect students to nature.
“ORU is built on the Christian belief that we’re not only educating the mind from an academic perspective but we’re educating the mind, body, and spirit. These buildings are meant to serve that greater vision by allowing our world class facilities to match the leaders we’re growing and nurturing,” Mays says. “So, it’s a really exceptional time to be part of the university’s historic growth and the lasting legacy it’ll leave for the next generation of leaders.”
In addition to their work on the Whole Person Building campaign, Mays and her team have been focused on numerous renovations, expansion projects, and facility upgrades. Some include the recent building renovation for the biology department’s new headquarters, interior renovations for the Fenimore and Fisher College of Business, Hall of Mirrors, volleyball practice gym, locker rooms, and more.
“These remodel projects are equally important as the more visible new construction projects, and we are thankful to our team: the designers, engineers, subcontractors, and Thompson Construction’s help on implementing many of these projects simultaneously,” Mays says.
While the idea of balancing such massive projects might seem daunting to most, it’s what Mays lives for. As a leader, she sets the tone for those projects and others by having a servant leadership mindset. It can be best described by something motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
“It’s not about trying to extract from people what you need but really growing the people you work around and building strong relationships,” Mays explains. “Getting to know the people you’re working with is really key for any successful project. Not just what they do professionally but as a person. Trying to create an environment that’s encouraging is great for the soul. I try to recognize people when they have a success and help people reach their goals.
Mays invests in the growth of her personnel in myriad ways. Monthly check-ins have been a staple to her approach, serving as a time for her to lend advice or even just an ear to those who need it.
“Checking in on a monthly basis allows us to evaluate how they’re progressing toward their goals and to make strategies for how to achieve them in the future,” she says.
Mays urges young people seeking success and chasing their dreams to go for it. She says, “The world is really your oyster. Go after your ambitions and dreams. Don’t be afraid to put in long hours; you’ll have to in order to succeed, and success won’t happen overnight. If you make those processes a habit, you’ll reap the long-term benefits.”
Crossland Construction takes immense pride in contributing to the healthcare sector through our construction projects. As a dedicated construction manager, we recognize that these facilities are more than structures; they are pillars of well-being for our communities. Our 1,600-plus dedicated and skilled employees are adept problem-solvers who thrive on challenges and are the backbone of our continued success. Being a family-owned company, we bring a personal touch to our client relationships, backed by the resources of a top-ranked contractor. We are committed to delivering more for our clients and partners, leaving lasting and positive impacts on our communities.