July 4, 2020

Melva Kishpaugh: Procurement Powerhouse

Need new laptops for your office? Hiring landscapers to beautify the campus? Renting puppets for the new theatre production?

Director of Procurement Services Melva Kishpaugh has been at UMW since 2007. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Director of Procurement Services Melva Kishpaugh has been at UMW since 2007. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Melva Kishpaugh has you covered. As the director of Procurement Services, she assists faculty and staff with getting whatever is needed to keep their offices running smoothly and get the job done. It’s a challenging role with lots of responsibilities – monitoring employee purchases, establishing contracts, negotiating with vendors, following rules and regulations, and much more – but it’s one that she loves, as evidenced by the three-plus decades she’s worked in procurement.

“It’s like a treasure hunt every day – you never know what you’re going to encounter,” said Kishpaugh, a Northern Virginia native who can connect her occupation to her childhood memories of antiquing with her father in Fredericksburg. She recalls searching high and low through downtown shops for old clocks – his personal favorite – and other forgotten gems from the past.

A UMW employee since 2007, Kishpaugh is proud of the role her department plays helping Mary Washington students earn their degrees. “I recently watched a group of seniors trying on their caps and gowns. Somewhere along the way, my team was providing contracts for dining services and janitorial staff to clean the buildings where they live and study, and purchasing equipment to enhance their learning experience. That’s a wonderful feeling.”

 

Q: What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of your job?
A: When someone needs to purchase something right away, they are usually worried. But we can often help them procure what they need immediately. It becomes difficult when situations arise that make the process take longer than expected.

Q: What’s the longest procurement process you’ve experienced at UMW?
A: It took a year to determine who would run the new bookstore and to sign the contract with Barnes & Noble.

Q: What’s the most bizarre procurement request you’ve seen?
A: I administered the small purchase charge card program when I first came to UMW. I was reviewing monthly purchase reports and noticed a Match.com charge. I was worried someone was misusing their card until I realized it was for a psychology class. I also helped the theatre department rent man-eating puppets for “The Little Shop of Horrors.”

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: When I was younger, I wanted to be a pilot. I almost joined the Air Force and had even gone through recruiting and testing, but math wasn’t my strong point, so I went in a different direction. I still enjoy air shows, but now I stay on the ground. Also, I have always owned some type of sports car because my Dad was a mechanic, and I inherited his affinity for them.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: All things in moderation.

Q: Any exciting summer plans?
A: My friends and I love the outdoor concert season. This summer, we’re seeing The Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Gary Clark Jr. and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. We’re also seeing Jamey Johnson and Brothers Osborne at Fredericksburg After Hours. I also enjoy reading rock autobiographies. My favorites were Keith Richards, who writes surprisingly well, and Steven Tyler, who writes exactly the way he speaks.

Q: What’s your favorite Stones song?
A: “Paint It Black” and “Sympathy for the Devil.” But I also like “You Can’t Always Get What You Want (But Sometimes You Get What You Need).” It’s the best procurement song, EVER.