England-native Ross Lumsden never imagined going to a university. He landed an apprenticeship right out of high school, and within two years, became a qualified security system engineer. When he wasn’t working, he was on the soccer field.
Five years into his career—just as he began wanting more from life—he received an unexpected phone call. Unbeknownst to him, a Lynn University alumnus who played soccer with him had recommended him to the university’s head men’s soccer coach.
“I didn’t have a computer or internet, so I pulled out an atlas and looked up Boca Raton,” Lumsden said. One scouting trip and few months later, he was on his way to the U.S. to play soccer on a scholarship at Lynn.
On the field, Lumsden’s age meant that he was stronger and more experienced than his peers. It also meant he became fast friends with senior team members who, along with their coach, helped him realize college was about more than athletics.
“Coach was always checking in with us, making sure we went to class and got good grades,” he said. “If we didn’t, he made it clear we would lose our scholarships. It helped me quickly realize that I didn’t want to waste time. I understood that the work I put in would directly impact what I got out of college.”
His sophomore year, Lumsden landed an on-campus job with Thomas Heffernan, the current director of construction and sustainability. Heffernan is responsible for new construction, and his jobs help students practice project management skills. Under Heffernan’s guidance for three years, Lumsden learned everything about the construction industry, from how to work with vendors and source bids to managing inventory and installations.
“When I first came to Lynn, coach told me, 'We’re going to have a soccer stadium with all these seats.' Ten years after I graduated, I built it.”
Ross Lumsden ’04, ’05
“He had a great work ethic,” said Heffernan, who invited Lumsden to also complete a graduate assistant program after his 2004 commencement. “He worked hard and always did an incredible job. He easily managed every project I gave him, and he built excellent relationships with vendors.”
One vendor especially appreciated Lumsden’s integrity.
“There was something about him,” said David Gerrits, owner of Gerrits Construction, a longtime Lynn construction partner. “After his graduation, I didn’t have a specific position for him, but I knew he was the right guy for my team. However far he wanted to go in the business, the door was open.”
He offered Lumsden a job, and so did Lynn’s Office of Admission.
“I wanted to go into marketing,” Lumsden laughed, “so I jumped at the chance to work for Gerrits, because I thought I could do it there. What I didn’t know was that my decision would bring me back to Lynn.”
Lumsden, now a vice president, joined Gerrits in 2005, and his alma mater has been one of his largest clients ever since. Together, they have built the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center, the Central Energy Plant, Bobby Campbell Stadium and Malfitano Field, and the Mohammed Indimi International Business Center. He also was the project manager for the Christine E. Lynn University Center build.
“He’s my right-hand man,” said Gerrits. “He makes good decisions and takes care of our clients.”
Heffernan and other Lynn administrators appreciate the value he brings as a professional engineer and an alumnus. Intangibles like understanding both sides of the build—inside from the university perspective and outside from the builder’s perspective—create efficiencies, especially in large projects. Lumsden’s deep relationships across campus help, too.
Outside of work, Lumsden supports the Fighting Knights Athletics program, which he helped win a national championship in 2003. He attends home games and has held positions in the Blue & White Club for over eight years. He also attends Alumni Weekend and gives back in other ways.
“I took something from Lynn—my education—and now I’m giving something back,” said Lumsden. “I’ve been on the alumni bandwagon for years. I will do anything to help Lynn. It’s like my second home.”
As an alumnus, Lumsden is especially proud of his role building Bobby Campbell Stadium.
“When I first came to Lynn, coach told me, ‘We’re going to have a soccer stadium with all these seats,’” he said. “Ten years after I graduated, I built it. It truly came full circle.”
And he’s not the only one who thinks so.
“Getting an education doesn’t always mean being taught in the classroom,” said Heffernan. “I find it personally fulfilling to see Ross on our campus every day. He’s a premier example of the experiences and services all Lynn employees strive to provide students. I’m proud of how far he’s come, and I enjoy getting to see him work on a daily basis.”
Students, partners and his colleagues do, too.