University’s Head Landscaper Honored by Professional Society

Jeff McManus recognized for distinguished service and launching education efforts

Jeff McManus, UM director of landscape services, shares some of the leadership lessons he has learned over his career as a manager and administrator. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The Professional Grounds Management Society has recognized the University of Mississippi‘s director of landscape services for his efforts to develop and launch educational offerings for the society and for his work to increase the society’s membership.

Jeff McManus received the society’s Award of Distinguished Service at the 2021 School of Grounds Management Conference & GIE+Expo in Louisville, Kentucky. The PGMS was established in 1911 as a professional society focused on education and professional advancement.

“Jeff McManus truly exemplifies the outstanding service that this award recognizes,” said Mark Feist, the society’s immediate past president. “I have served with Jeff for many years on committees, the board and under his leadership as PGMS president.

“In addition to his busy position as director of landscape services and his roles as an author and professional speaker, Jeff is still able to dedicate time to serving as chair of the PGMS Webinar Task Force producing bimonthly webinar content. Jeff also serves as chair for a subset of the Education Committee, developing education offerings for the PGMS School of Grounds Management.

“Jeff has helped me understand the true meaning of leadership through the example he sets in cultivating people and, in my case, cultivating friendship.”

McManus, who also oversees airport and golf course operations at Ole Miss, joined the university in 2000. Under his leadership, the university has won the Grand Award in the PGMS’s Green Star Awards twice, in 2002 and 2013, and has been named among the nation’s most beautiful campuses by several other organizations.

He oversees a staff of 32 full-time employees, who maintain more than 1,000 acres on the central campus in Oxford. Staff members plant an average of 20,000 seasonal color plants, 10,000 tulip bulbs and 10,000 daffodils annually, as well as more than 200 new trees.

Being honored for the team’s work is greatly appreciated, but being recognized for education and people-building is special, McManus said.

“Over the last 21 years, Ole Miss has been a landscape industry leader both in campus beautification as well as people development,” he said. “The Department of Landscape Services tries to emulate the leadership style from Dr. Robert Khayat by leading by example.

“His passion for excellence, having pride of ownership and having a winner’s mindset has inspired our daily hard-work ethic. Our staff does an amazing job adapting to and overcoming the challenges they face when working in nature at a major university.”

A certified arborist and acclaimed leadership speaker, McManus also has authored several books, including “Growing Weeders into Leaders” (Morgan James Publishing, 2017), “Pruning Like a Pro” (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015) and the forthcoming “Cultivate: A Landscape Leaders’ Guide to Empowering Teams.”

The university is blessed to have leadership that supports excellence across campus, he said.

“Chancellor Glenn Boyce and Steven Holley, our vice chancellor for administration and finance, show tremendous support to our department by cultivating greatness on the Ole Miss campus,” McManus said.