In 2003, the City of Middletown approved the strategic facility masterplan that was developed in collaboration with the Middletown community, faculty, staff, students and alumni of Wesleyan University. The Facilities Working Group and Master Plan Executive Committee served to provide ideas, opinions, and critical responses to help guide the plan to completion. Ayers Saint Gross was the consultant that facilitated the planning process.
For the last four (4) years, Wesleyan has measured the performance of its’ Facilities operation as a member of a collaboration of colleges and universities managed by Sightlines, LLC. Each year, Sightlines measures the investment in building assets and their stewardship, the level of customer satisfaction and the operating effectiveness of the facilities operation.
The campus consists of approximately 360 acres and 2.9 million gross square feet of buildings. Wesleyan is a residential college and provides housing for all of its undergraduate students, although approximately 40 students are allowed by lottery, to live in non-Wesleyan housing each year.
The Associate Vice President for Facilities, who reports to the Vice President for Finance and Administration, has 158 full time employees including 65 contracted workers. Direct responsibilities include Physical Plant, Construction Services, Environmental Health and Safety, Campus Fire Safety and Rental Properties. The Physical Plant Director is responsible for building trades, mechanical trades, utilities management, custodians, grounds and events.
Wesleyan’s major maintenance program has facilitated improvements worth approximately $38 million dollars within the past five (5) years. Each year, the Wesleyan community is asked to submit major maintenance projects for consideration. A list of proposed projects is compiled, reviewed and prioritized by a group of facilities staff and student representatives over a period of six (6) months. A Leadership Committee consisting of over ten (10) Senior Staff and Senior Administrators have the final approval of work to be performed. A five (5) year rolling plan is in place for major maintenance projects.
Within the last five (5) years, Wesleyan has completed $136 million dollars in renovations and new construction, including major and minor projects. Downey House, once a gathering space for events and the former location of the faculty dining club has been renovated to house classrooms and offices for the English and Classical Studies Departments. The Patricelli ’92 Theater has been fully renovated and restored for dance and theater productions. The Memorial Chapel was renovated and the Zelnick Pavilion was constructed to accommodate large assemblies on campus. New buildings constructed in the last five (5) years include Film Studies phase I, an addition to the Freeman Athletic Center, a 270 bed residence hall and apartment complex called Fauver Field. The Usdan University Center is nearing construction completion and the former Fayerweather building is being renovated and restored. Consistent with the strategic facility masterplan goal of promoting a pedestrian friendly campus, the campus has seen dozens of landscape improvements in the last five (5) years including but not limited to the addition of more than 300 off street parking spaces, thousands of feet of sidewalks, new exterior lighting, benches and landscaping.
In 2003, Wesleyan employed Sightlines LLC to benchmark the facilities operation and physical assets of the University against eleven (11) peer institutions. Data collected annually and measured against our peer schools include: Annual stewardship – the equilibrium need and corresponding actual investment to keep-up with the planned maintenance and replacement of building components as they reach the end of their useful life. Asset reinvestment-accumulated backlog of repair and modernization needs and the definition of resource capacity to correct them. Operating effectiveness-the effectiveness in delivering daily service, protecting assets, and managing energy consumption. Service-the measure of service process, the maintenance quality of space and systems, and the customer’s opinion of service delivery.
One of the greatest challenges for our facilities team is the day to day operations and renovations to our historic buildings. Approximately 46% of Wesleyan’s square footage is more than 50 years old, whereas only 4% is less than 10 years old. While the older buildings add historic character to the campus, the aging mechanical systems place a burden on the operating budget and are slowly being renovated and replaced as part of the campus masterplan. Wesleyan’s operating budget for FY05 averaged $6.72 per gross square foot which is higher than our peer schools average of $6.43. Several initiatives are recently completed or underway to reduce those operating costs including a complete restructuring of the facilities organization, the implementation of increased performance expectations for the team, and the divesting of smaller, less efficient buildings on the periphery of campus. Since the initiation of the new web based work order system, annual overtime spending for maintenance has been reduced by 33% between FY02 and FY06. Improvements in the service process and improved feedback with customers is commendable according to Sightlines customer survey results, in part due to the new work order system.