Austin Community College (ACC) is taking a concerted effort to renovate and repair facilities and systems districtwide.
"ACC's campuses are a part of our identity. Each one has its own character and history and has served our students and community well over the years. It's time to take a close look at ways we can evolve to ensure our students, faculty, and staff have the first-class learning environment they deserve," says Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm, ACC Campus Operations & Public Affairs executive vice president.
"It is about re-energizing the workforce, taking pride in what we do, and listening to the people on our campuses, asking them: 'what do you need?'," says Wayne Maines, ACC Safety and Operations vice president.
The College Operations Division is taking a 360-degree view of campuses and centers and its systems and processes to identify areas for improvement.
ADDRESSING THE BACKLOG
In December 2017, there were nearly 3,000 open work orders districtwide that encompass everything from cosmetic repairs to major issues such as leaks and downed trees. To date, about two-thirds have been addressed.
Campus beautification is among the top priorities. The college implemented a paint-and-polish program.
"It's just paint-and-polish, but it's pretty powerful. It makes such a difference when you walk in the door and it's brighter and shinier. And yes, there's a lot more of that to come," says Maines.
The process is unfolding on campuses from oldest to newest with Riverside Campus being first. Afterward, crews will turn their full attention to Eastview Campus.
The next districtwide projects will include alarm system upgrades and roof and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) repairs — estimated to cost approximately $3 million over the next year and a half to complete.
INCORPORATING NEW TECHNOLOGIES
New technologies also are being introduced on campuses.
The college hired a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) professional, an ACC graduate, to develop digital profiles of each campus that overlay various campus components including building layout and footprint, parking, landscape, and more. The maps will help the college analyze how these components interact with each other.
Ongoing maintenance will continue districtwide with quality audits which campus managers will conduct and oversee.
"Everybody's in charge of quality. We want our teams to go out and walk the campus. There's trash over there or a broken bench — you have to write it down. Everything gets put into the maintenance management system so we know about it and can take care of it in a timely manner."
Campus managers will take note of anything needing cleaning or repairs in detailed monthly audits and shorter weekly versions.
To help everyone get on the same page, the existing maintenance management system, MicroMain, is being upgraded to a new global version — a web-based environment that can integrate with other collegewide systems.
To be more effective and efficient, all college HVAC and electrical technicians now use iPads to improve communications and talk to each other from afar. They will eventually be linked to the MicroMain system so they can review work orders and update statuses in real-time.
The college also is implementing new processes and procedures to ensure work is consistent and improve tracking, process evaluation, and provide accurate cost estimates. Since 2017, the College Operations Division has developed 46 written instructions and another 73 drafts, ranging from 'how to answer the phone' to 'how to manage events.'
The college has hired SightLine, Inc. to conduct a comprehensive facility assessment review districtwide starting with a comprehensive technical assessment of ACC buildings and properties, including roof conditions, heating and ventilation systems, building interiors/exteriors, managed landscape, utilities, and parking.
"We are listening and making improvements the college needs. What it looks like when someone walks on campus and what they experience when they enter a classroom matters. This is an integral part of the college's commitment to student success," says Dr. Malcolm.