A look behind the scenes: Facilities Management keeps campus functional

Campus Assistant Architect Patrick Long (middle) consulting a group on construction workers in the ground floor of Founders Hall. The workers are piping ventilation for HVAC units through the floors as part of the building’s renovation.   

For many SIUE students, Facilities Management is only ever seen while raking leaves around campus or resetting circuit breakers in buildings, but what many don’t know is that their presence on campus involves more than just mundane maintenance. 

With over 14,000 students and nearly 3,000 acres of land, Facilities Management and their staff of roughly 200 personnel has the monumental task of  keeping campus running, providing transportation and maintaining sewage systems. All of our university’s critical functions are controlled by this small group of staff on campus. 

From their reclusive headquarters on the aptly named Supporting Services Road, teams responsible for electronic upkeep, groundskeeping and HVAC maintenance are led by Director of Facilities Management Craig Holan. 

From a quick fall season to the recent snowfalls, they have had a large to-do list, starting with groundskeeping. 

“We started at 10:30 Wednesday night and worked until 3:30 the next afternoon, getting rid of the snow,” assistant superintendent of grounds Kert MacLaughlin said.

Long hours are common in Holan’s department. 

Infrastructure on campus is also always in need of repair, design and upkeep. 

“At any time, our to-do list has a thousand number-one priorities,” Holan said. 

Facilities Management’s architects are currently running SIUE’s 21st Century Building Plan, which aims to redesign, retrofit and outfit buildings on campus with a modern look and construction — most of which can  be seen as they work to renovate Founders Hall. 

However, this abstract and long-running initiative doesn’t see assistant architect Patrick Long and campus architect Roberto Canessa-Amador at the drafting table every day. 

“I’d say in terms of the actual Mike Brady ‘making things pretty’ part, it’s maybe 5 percent of our daily job. We put budgets together, plan together and make sure things function properly,” Long said. 

According to Holan, architecture on campus and the construction around Founders Hall is a multi-million dollar project that fits into a larger theme for campus: renovation and improvement.

“It’s developing what we call ‘the scope of work.’ If there’s a project, we have to determine, in conjunction with the customer, what our projects consist of,” Canessa-Amador said.  

Getting supplies for construction and students to classrooms around campus, or even out of the state, is no easy task for Facilities Management. 

Pam Heepke directs a fleet of 238 campus vehicles for rental by staff and even students. 

Around 21 SIUE trucks and cars are checked in and out every day and are available to students, with a discount on Facilities Managements’ website. 

Working in the background, Holan’s team is responsible for keeping a campus with an evolving population of students, faculty and staff. 

They’re tackling an influx of students by revamping campus buildings through the 21st Century Building Plan and strengthening the campus’s power grid and water supply. 

“All these projects come with short-term inconvenience, but a long-term gain. So, we’ve asked people to be patient with us. We understand that the business of the university needs to happen and that’s what we’re here for,” Holan said. “We’re here to support the university’s mission.”

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