Maintenance & Operations (Managing the Physical Plant)

Where Are We Headed?

I would first like to thank College Planning & Management for allowing me to pen some thoughts related to maintenance, facilities, physical plant and campus operations. My career background includes over 30 years of managerial experience in the automotive parts supply business. During my career I served in many different managerial roles, including plant manager in the U.S. and plant manager at a facility based in the United Kingdom. My international experience includes working in England, France, Germany, Spain and Poland.

After leaving the automotive supply business I served as the dean of Business, Engineering Technologies and Workforce Development at a community college in northwest Ohio. In this capacity, I provided direction and leadership for the college on academic programs, operational issues and the development of new curriculum based on local organizational and industry needs. In 2010 I was offered the opportunity to work at my alma mater and was appointed assistant vice president of Campus Operations at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Responsibilities include budget administration, preventative maintenance programs, logistics, custodial programs and services, mechanical and electrical maintenance services, grounds and landscaping and the Office of Sustainability. We currently manage 5,000,000 square feet on a campus with over 20,000 students, faculty and staff.

In my spare time, I am an adjunct professor in the Management Department in the College of Business at BGSU, where I teach undergraduate and graduate level courses in supply chain management, logistics and global management.

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from BGSU, majoring in Production and Operations Management. I also hold a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame and a Doctor of Education degree from BGSU, specializing in Leadership and Policy studies.

Establishing Relationships

I’m often asked about my transition from spending so many years in the private sector and then landing in the higher education area. It is not easy; the private sector is more of an executive style of environment with much of the direction resonating from the CEO. The execution plans are defined and based on sales and profit expectations and the pace can be quicker, with more latitude to get things accomplished. In higher education the scenario is different, with much of the opportunity related to developing a legislative style of management. This style can be quite interesting, and understanding how to get things done in this environment is vital for your area and departments.

One of the strategies that I developed when I first arrived at BGSU was to immediately immerse myself into the campus, signing up for several committees and chairing a search team, as well as applying to become an adjunct professor. Enlisting in committees and other activities, as well as teaching, was my attempt to learn more about how a campus works.

The committees helped me meet people and foster numerous incredible friendships. They also helped me network with other departments and establish relationships that would prove to be very beneficial. These relationships were developed in all areas of the campus. Keep in mind, relationships matter and they help you get things done. This is where the legislative style of management comes in: you need to get multiple thoughts and opinions that help build a resolve towards allowing you to move forward on new ideas related to classrooms, collaboration space, flexible teaching areas and new technology related to buildings and systems.

The adjunct professor’s role is interesting, and extremely informative. Teaching is a great way to stay in touch with students while also helping to create an awareness about activities throughout the campus related to technology, building renovations and classroom enhancements. Relationships with academic departments, students, faculty and staff are going to help us fulfill our obligation in creating an organization focused on better customer service, sense of urgency and improving the university environment.

In Campus Operations, our primary role is to update and maintain the university campus with support from Design/Construction and Capital Planning. In the months ahead I will discuss the process of how we went through the assessment of Campus Operations. Some of the items we reviewed included operational items such as departmental budgets, staffing levels, preventative maintenance, service level agreements, work order data that included building and task, shift schedules and patterns, organizational reporting structures, customer service levels, sustainability, efficiencies, performance benchmarks and effectiveness.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

About the Author

Bruce A. Meyer, Ed.D., is assistant vice president of Campus Operations at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, appointed in April 2010. His team currently manages 5,000,000 square feet on a campus with over 20,000 students, faculty and staff.