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Ohio University Porter Hall on Oct. 23, 2021

Campus facilities maintenance adapts to recent constraints

Deferred maintenance has been accumulating at Ohio University while Facilities Management and Safety has faced a 20% staffing reduction since November 2019. In the past year and a half, it has also operated with a $15 million decrease in its budget than it had previously. 

Chief Facilities Maintenance Officer Steve Wood said the university regularly engages in two types of maintenance: preventative and correctional maintenance. 

Wood describes preventative maintenance by comparing it to routinely servicing a car and changing the oil. 

“You're supposed to be changing your oil, that's going to prevent your motor engine from breaking down,” Wood said. “We have preventive maintenance tasks for our physical plan for all the facilities on campus.”

Those tasks are added to a schedule on a weekly, monthly, annual or semi-annual basis, which Wood described as largely dependent on industry standards. 

On the other hand, corrective maintenance seeks to address noticeable issues that warrant immediate attention, such as temperature imbalances or ceiling leaks. Those types of problems are addressed by technicians who can identify the problem and the corrective course of action. Corrective maintenance efforts are on an as-needed basis and are not scheduled. 

Wood indicated that administrative and residence buildings’ cosmetic upkeep and interior renovation has been deferred lately as construction and function is financially prioritized. However, classroom and educational aesthetic renovations are financed through a separate fund managed by university planning and the Office of Information Technology. 

For residence hall maintenance, priorities are determined by the department of Housing and Residence Life and facilities management receives the requests. 

Interim Director for Housing and Residence Life Jneanne Hacker said on an annual basis, housing and residence life has certain maintenance tasks performed, including paint refreshes and HVAC and air conditioning unit cleaning.

“I think that (facilities) really provide a great experience for our students,“ Hacker said. “As we identify on behalf of our students where they would like to see us invest, even if we can't do a full renovation like in Jefferson, wherever they like to see us invest our capital dollars and overwhelmingly it's the lobby areas and the bathroom areas.”

University facilities management evaluates the number and categorization of work orders and the amount of necessary corrective action to inform its capital improvements projects. That helps the university determine the conditions and needs of the physical campus so that it can prioritize its capital dollars, while also avoiding deferred maintenance backlog. 

Hacker echoed Wood in pointing out that most of the current facilities financial investment is in capital renovation, which for residence halls will include some degree of cosmetic as well as functional work. Wood described his 32 years of experience in facilities as informing his recommendations for prioritization and investment. 

At the October meeting of the OU Board of Trustees, Wood brought forward six coming capital improvement projects that the university is undertaking, including the demolition of Scott Quad, installing a building-based heating system in Bromley Hall and implementing system improvements at the Convocation Center. There are currently 137 ongoing capital projects with an approximate $366 million budget. 


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