‘There for the students’: Rob Kleisinger wins U of R Distinguished Service Award

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: December 13, 2022 10:00 a.m.

Rob Kleisinger, pictured in an equipment room below the University of Regina, retired as the manager of mechanical services in 2021. He has been awarded the Board of Governors Distinguished Service Award.
Rob Kleisinger, pictured in an equipment room below the University of Regina, retired as the manager of mechanical services in 2021. He has been awarded the Board of Governors Distinguished Service Award. Photo: U of R Photography

Rob Kleisinger was on a bus bound for southern Saskatchewan when Brett Banadyga first met him in the summer of 2017.

Kleisinger, the University of Regina’s manager of mechanical services at the time, and Banadyga, then a third-year industrial systems engineering student, were both part of a larger group embarking upon a power plant tour.

They struck up a conversation that Banadyga, BASc’19, said helped direct his career.

“He was telling me and another student about the local ASHRAE organization,” said Banadyga, using the acronym for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, an international not-for-profit supporting those in the field. “He had a passion for mechanical design and getting people involved in that industry.”

Banadyga went on to join the Regina chapter of the organization and with Kleisinger’s help, was a founder of the U of R’s student chapter.

“That was a huge stepping stone for me in my career,” said Banadyga, now a project manager with AME Consulting in Calgary, who is still involved with ASHRAE as a board member in southern Alberta.

As manager of mechanical services, spending time with students and sharing knowledge with them weren’t among Kleisinger’s listed job duties. Those were things he chose to do throughout his nearly 40-year career.

“We were there for the students,” said Kleisinger, who began with the university in 1983 as a term labourer and worked his way up to the managerial role he held when he retired in December 2021. “I just thought it was really important that we help them.

“It’s always different having theory in the books and then coming to an actual mechanical room.”

Emmet Boyle, the University of Regina’s director of maintenance and utilities, said that his former colleague “absolutely understood” not only the mission of the university, but the value of hands-on learning.

“He always made time for students,” said Boyle, who remembered Kleisinger touring groups of aspiring engineers through the tunnels under the university during his evenings, explaining the mechanical systems to them.

Kleisinger said he couldn’t recall exactly how that all got started, but lab instructor Rob Jones recalled running into Kleisinger in the hallway one day in the mid-1990s. They got to talking.

“He said to me, ‘If your students need access to something or there’s equipment they need to see, let me know,’ ” said Jones, who took his friend up on the offer.

“It kind of made it like a living lab,” Jones said. “He knew the benefit of them seeing the real equipment.”

Some were so inspired they focused the capstone projects that came later in their degrees around improving the efficiency of the existing university systems.

“They tried to solve some of our issues in their projects,” Kleisinger said. “It was helpful on both sides.” 

Before retiring, Kleisinger allocated the funds remaining in his Accountable Professional Expense Account to continuing that legacy with the Facilities Management Engineering Student Capstone Project Support Award. The fund now has more than $10,000 in it.

For his years of dedication to and support of the University of Regina and its staff, faculty – and above all, students – Kleisinger has been honoured with the Board of Governors Distinguished Service Award. He received the award at a dinner on December 12.