Staff Spotlight: E.J. Patterson
He’s a reliable, supportive colleague to co-workers. A mentor and role model to students. A friendly, courteous representative of Recreational Sports to gym patrons and the campus community. And to his supervisor, Director of Facility Operations Pete Schaack, E.J. Patterson is an exemplary staff member who is never satisfied with the status quo and works diligently to make RecSports the best program of its kind in the country.
The daily operations of Gregory Gym, the beloved flagship facility of RecSports, and the Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex, are in E.J.’s capable hands. His wide-ranging skills and experience in facility management and personnel supervision are bolstered by a strong work ethic and an innate ability to work with others and build team cohesion. These attributes, along with E.J.’s dedication to upholding the values of RecSports, create a solid foundation for advancing the department’s quest for excellence.
E.J. was born and raised in rural Mississippi in the small town of Corinth, the youngest of four boys, which he says has made him “both spoiled and feisty.” He joined RecSports in June 2005 upon completing a master’s of science in health promotion from the University of Mississippi where he had previously earned a BA in business administration. He came on board as the assistant facility coordinator for indoor satellites, namely, the Recreational Sports Center, Anna Hiss Gym, Bellmont Hall and the Pickle Research Campus.
“We were immediately attracted to his character and maturity, his calm and even-keeled manner, his desire to serve others, and his commitment to high personal and professional standards,” recalls former Senior Director Eric Stoutner, who was part of the team that interviewed E.J. for the position.
Over time, E.J. rose in rank to assistant facility coordinator overseeing Gregory Gym to facility coordinator with expanded responsibilities for supervising the assistant facility coordinator of the Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex and all of the satellite facilities. Now, as an associate director, his responsibilities are vast and varied. He supervises staff (two full-time and approximately 200 part-time students), and manages and coordinates wages and budgets, facility repairs and renovations, contracts, special events, strategic planning, and much more. One of E.J.’s most significant achievements was the redesign of the recreational spaces at Bellmont Hall in 2014 and 2015, which resulted in modernized, high-quality activity spaces spread across five floors.
E.J. has evolved to become one of RecSports’ strongest leaders and most respected colleagues. As his current supervisor, Pete Schaack, notes, E.J. gained a stellar reputation by demanding excellence from himself and others. “His calm demeanor helps him keep staff motivated while demanding nothing but everyone’s best effort.”
As testament to this assessment, Joanna Turner BA ’09, MA ’12, PhD ’16, a former Gregory Gym student staff member, says it was E.J.’s unflinching integrity that she most admired. “He held himself to the highest standards…and he expected us to do the same as representatives of RecSports and The University of Texas at Austin, more broadly.” This experience left a strong impression on Joanna who says it has carried over to how she approaches her position as distance learning coordinator for OnRamps, a division of UT’s Office of Strategy and Policy.
One of E.J.’s most rewarding responsibilities is advising Texas THON, a student organization that sponsors an annual dance marathon. This campus-wide event brings together a large and diverse group of students who volunteer their time and efforts to raise awareness and money to support research, equipment and uncompensated care for pediatric patients at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.
As advisor to the students for the past seven years, E.J. offers guidance, support and direction. A former THON student committee member, Kyle Crop BS, ’15, BA ’16, says, “He helped us navigate campus resources, host events, approach funding opportunities, and utilize RecSports as our partner in growing Texas THON.” In fact, that year the dance marathon reached a significant milestone, raising six figures in contributions for the first time. Kyle credits E.J. for a successful and historic year because of his dedication and support- “whether our plans needed validation, a change of course, or simply a calm presence to quiet the chaos.”
Recently E.J. was selected to serve as co-advisor for the Texas Blazers, an honor society and service‐spirit‐leadership organization devoted to serving The University of Texas at Austin. No doubt, he will bring his same dedication and support to this group of students.
Aside from his professional life, E.J. can best be described as a man of faith and family. He and his wife of 14 years, Elan, are raising two children- Jonah, 11, and Jiana, 8, in a home dedicated to Christian values. As an outgrowth of those values, E.J. has traveled to Rwanda four times in recent years to volunteer in the Kageyo Gardens Project, building vegetable gardens and the necessary infrastructure for their growth to benefit the people affected by the 1994 genocide.
He’s also an adept athlete who loves a pick-up game of basketball and volleyball, roots for his alma mater Ole Miss athletic teams, and takes pride as an alumni member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.