director of Physical Plant, oversees 75 full-time employees and 50 contract
employees from the department's new home on Long Lane.
Director of Physical Plant Responsible for Building Trades, Utilities,
when did you become the new director of Physical Plant and what do you think
of it so far?
A: I came to Wesleyan in the middle of June 2005. The people here
have been so nice and helpful getting me acclimated to the place. I look
forward to a long career here.
Q: What are your responsibilities?
A: I'm responsible for overall operations and maintenance of the
"physical plant" in other words most of the universities' buildings
including the central power plant but excluding rental properties, and the
grounds and landscaping. We manage the contractors who mow the lawns in the
warm weather and move the snow and spread the sand when it gets cold.
Management of our utility consumption and related energy conservation
initiatives are also within my scope of responsibility. To do this work, we
have facility managers who monitor condition of our buildings, coordinate
repair and improvement projects, and serve as our liaison with building
users. We have a staff of skilled tradespersons and technicians who operate
and monitor the various heating, air conditioning, electrical and plumbing
systems and perform repairs as needed. Our operation is staffed 24x7 round
Q: How many people work in Physical Plant?
A: We have 75 full-time employees and 59 contract employees.
Q: What is the mission of Physical Plant?
A: Weíre responsible for the construction, renovation, repair,
maintenance and operation of all buildings and grounds. We have 370
buildings that need to be operated in a safe, environmental manner. These
buildings are valuable assets so, just like your home, we try to keep them
in as good a shape as possible in view of their age with the resources we
Q: I imagine that can be pretty challenging.
A: The challenge is what attracted me to working here. Wesleyan has
several old buildings and maintaining them can be difficult due to age,
historic nature and associated restrictions, obsolete systems and
availability of replacement parts.
Q: What do Wesleyanís power bills look like?
A: Our gas, oil and electric budget is $5.6 million. Of that $2.8
million is spent on electricity alone, so conserving energy is one of our
biggest priorities that we keep an eye on.
Q: If my office has a flickering fluorescent bulb, what do I do?
A: You would call our customer service office at 685-3400. We have
two operators here from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. During off
hours, calls are routed to the Power Plant. The operators fill out a work
request and that goes into our computer system. The forepersons see the
requests and assign a technician to fix the problem. We'll get someone out
there as soon as possible. If situation is not an emergency, it may take a
few days to complete any repair.
Q: What are the most common reasons Wesleyan employees call Physical
A: It runs the gamut - hot, cold complaints in offices and conference
rooms, plumbing repairs, lights out, broken windows, doors sticking, fire
alarms. Keys are a big one. Keys break or get stuck in a lock or people lose
Q: Is one part of the year busier than another?
A: Right now when students and faculty return is one of the busiest.
Reunion/commencement is another. Summer and break periods are very busy as
those are our short windows of opportunity to get in to student residence
areas to make repairs and do preventive maintenance. We are pretty busy
throughout the year.
Q: What would happen if Physical Plant closed down for just one day?
A: Well, the power plant would be unattended and that would not be
very safe. Repairs would not get done, an overflowing toilet would not get
fixed very quickly, students who locked themselves out of their rooms would
need to be let in by public safety each time.
Q: How does the new Physical Plant facility on Long Lane benefit your
A: Before we moved into the Cady School on Long Lane, Physical Plant
was split into different locations on campus. The shop facilities were poor
and not conducive to morale. By being consolidated under one roof, we can
foster teamwork and employees have a sense of belonging. We can all think
under one roof. The new shop facilities should help to improve our service
Q: What were you doing before you came to Wesleyan?
A: I was working at Middlesex Hospital as a director of engineering.
I was managing projects, facilities, clinical engineers, the buildings,
physical plant and grounds. Before that, I worked at Northeast Utilities for
18 year in various power plant facility engineering and management roles.
Q: What did you study in college?
A: I have a bachelorís degree in mechanical engineering from
Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a masterís degree in mechanical
engineering and masterís of business administration from Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute. Iím also a registered professional engineer in the
state of Connecticut.
Q: Do you consider yourself to be a handy-man?
A: Yes. Iím always fixing things around the house. My first house in
New Britain was a three-family house and I worked on that quite a bit. Many
years ago I worked in a machine shop.
Q: What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?
A: I enjoy sailing, snow and water skiing, and working on my model
railroad. IĎve been doing that project for about 15 years. My wife, Teri,
and I have a 7-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son, and Iím busy coaching
my daughterís soccer team and my sonís basketball team.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection