Looking to the Future
1. When will lack of means to dispose of hazardous waste limit work that can be done in laboratories?
Consensus: Half of the respondents say it’ll never happen. One says disposal isn’t the problem....
Steger: "Since most hazardous waste hauling and disposal costs are relatively high now, I feel that those limits are being reached as we speak."
Mullin: "I don’t believe this will ever happen. As research and development in labs expands in specialized areas, the need for hazardous waste disposal will grow with demand. The cost of growth may prohibit the increase at the rate necessary but, if there is a need and a potential for economic growth, I believe the challenge and the demand will be met."
Pellerin: "I find it very unlikely that colleges will have lack of means and need to limit work being done in laboratories. For one reason, colleges receive a great deal of public and private money for research. This money would have to be cut or disappear completely to affect most of the research being performed in our college laboratories today. I believe that, as long as we have problems in society and as long as we have not reached utopia, there will be resources available."
Schade: "Disposal of hazardous waste will always be an issue; however, eliminating the hazardous waste factor is the real problem."
2. When will decisions about whether to privatize custodial and/or maintenance services be based primarily on the service to be provided rather than on cost savings alone?
(Respondents: Bill McGinnis, director of the Facilities Management and Services Department, California State University, Chico. Michael Steger, director of physical plant services, Palm Beach Atlantic College, West Palm Beach, Fla., for National Management Resources Corp. Jan Schade, custodial services contract administrator for facilities planning and management at Washington University, St. Louis.)
Consensus: It’s happening now.
McGinnis: "When will budgets be large enough to fund superior cleaning practices? The issue that creates the demand for privatization is not funding alone, but also a dissatisfaction with the end product. Facility departments need to learn to compete or go out of existence. The facility managers need to benchmark against the private sector as they are our competition, not the cleaning departments of other universities! If our salary schedules are too high in comparison to private employers, then we need to cover more square feet than the custodian in the private sector and in a better manner."
Steger: "While cost will always be a factor in an institution’s decision-making process, I feel that more institutions are taking the service side of these contracts seriously. And, the contractors are taking the service and quality issues seriously, too. We are not there just to save money or hold down costs, but to increase quality, too."
Schade: "Quality of service is a subjective measurement based on customer satisfaction. Quality of custodial services cannot be based on cost savings alone. It must also be based on customer satisfaction. We know that because Washington University is a privately owned institution that depends on generous donations based on the expectations of past alumni, student enrollment, community groups and faculty.
"We are currently investigating contract services for custodial services. Pre-bid packages were sent to many of the local contractors based strictly on performance, client references, quality control techniques, training, company resumes, benefits, special services and hiring policies. A small group of facilities personnel will evaluate each company based solely on these factors and on-site visits to their clients."
3. When will libraries give up space as technology replaces periodical and book collections?
(Respondents: Cheryl Mullin, director of facilities services, Franklin College, Franklin, Ind. Bill McGinnis, director of Facilities Management and Services Department, California State University, Chico. Paul F. Smith, assistant vice chancellor, administrative services and facilities, Pima County Community College District, Tucson, Ariz.)
Consensus: Two-thirds of the respondents loudly say, "never."
Mullin: "This will happen in the next 20 to 25 years - as land and building costs rise and the need for a more customer-based, user-friendly, user-convenient society demands access to resources without on-site visits."
McGinnis: "No one ever gives up space. The learning centers (libraries are already gone) will replace the stacks with computer terminal locations for students and faculty to do research and to provide special access equipment (i.e., video tape and CD access). Also, the replacement of historical books with computer disk data will take a long time to complete. The only way we will ever take over the library space will be to remove the building altogether!"
Smith: "I don’t believe that much space will be given up in the near future (say the next 20 years) by libraries, because of technology. While the wealth of reference sources has increased tremendously with the Internet, books still have a real use as they can be referenced quickly and taken with you to meetings, conferences or home - and they are easy to read. The periodical area is where I would expect technology to have the biggest impact as the articles are relatively short, can be read quickly and, if necessary, can be printed out. Books are here to stay for the foreseeable future."
4. When will colleges purchase building products based on life-cycle cost rather than low initial cost?
(Respondents: Cheryl Mullin, director of facilities Services, Franklin College, Franklin, Ind. Bill McGinnis, director of Facilities Management and Services Department, California State University, Chico. Paul F. Smith, assistant vice chancellor, administrative services and facilities, Pima County Community College District, Tucson, Ariz).
Consensus: It’s starting to happen now.
Mullin: "I believe we are beginning to see this trend begin now in small ways such as plastic and aluminum tables instead of pressed board or plywood. Initial costs are nearly double, but usage life is more than doubled to tripled. Also, lighting fixtures and some light bulbs have a higher cost per unit, but the life of equipment and materials more than covers itself within a few years."
McGinnis: "Or how about reliability rather than cost? Changes in the public sector purchasing process are difficult to make for fear of improper spending of the public’s money. I look for more life-cycle purchasing to occur within the next year or two and full implementation to occur in the next five years."
Smith: "In some cases, colleges are now purchasing building products based on life- cycle costs. This methodology is gaining more acceptance every year with the various governing agencies, like boards of trustees, governing boards and departments of education. However, sometimes regardless of the life cycle cost, you have to have the product right now, and the amount of funds available is limited, so you make the best possible purchase. It is up to the leader in the plant operations unit to make the case for life-cycle purchasing; you must be able to demonstrate to the governing agency that the purchase makes sense; contributes to the well being of the students, staff and faculty; and makes the college more efficient."
5. When will colleges provide continuing education and training for classified (nonacademic) employees?
(Respondents: Terrence J. Pellerin, associate director of physical plant, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass. Bill McGinnis, director of Facilities Management & Services Department, California State University, Chico.)
Consensus: It’s happening now.
Pellerin: "Many colleges offer continuing education to their nonacademic employees. However, many employees do not take advantage of the benefit. I blame not the employee but the department management for the lack of employee involvement. Employees need to be inspired and, in most cases, they receive that inspiration from their department managers.
"As managers, we need to make the first move by bringing in professional seminars or trainers. By running some in-house programs, you are communicating to your people that they are of value to you and the college. I know we all have in-house training for our employees; however, 90 percent of the time, these programs are directly job related. The programs that I am referring to are more directed toward personal development.
"At WPI, we run programs with motivational speakers about subjects such as stress reduction, reasons to change, team power and how customers deserve quality. I have seen remarkable changes in our people’s attitudes after attending programs of this nature. The power of people working together is a tremendous resource, which most managers have not yet realized."
McGinnis: "We do now. We are in the process of developing an individual learning plan for each of our employees based upon their present jobs as well as their long-term goals (and the university’s long-term goals). We also send employees to training on effectiveness and leadership and to technical programs."
6. When will all campus security guards be armed?
(Respondents: Horace Johnson, chief of police, Western Kentucky University Police Dept., Bowling Green, Ky. Kenneth Bumgarner, associate vice president of university services, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.)
Consensus: It’s not going to happen - ever.
Johnson: "The question references security guards, which gives the connotation of untrained professionals, so the answer is simple: Never! University campuses vary in their degree of security methods. This is often stipulated in accordance with respective state laws. Another factor is whether the institution is public or private.
"Progressive universities have professionally trained law enforcement police personnel that are armed as a result of their recognition as professionals.
"Unfortunately, many colleges suffer from the uninformed belief and stigma that police are bad for the image of the educational institution. Nothing is further from the truth! Exactly the reverse is more accurate: The trend in college law enforcement is to have the very best trained, equipped and educated professional police personnel to protect the university’s most important asset - its students."
Bumgarner: "I think all guards/police will be armed right after the faculty, staff and students are. Just kidding! Although our campus has armed ‘police’ officers, I would hope we could work to create a climate that would not see a need for them."
7. When will student tuition and fees be collected only via online transactions?
(Respondents: Paul F. Smith, assistant vice chancellor, Administrative Services and Facilities, Pima County Community College District, Tucson, Ariz. Larry Rapagnani, Ph.D., Office of Information Technologies, University of Notre Dame, Ind. Ronald I. Pierce, director of auxiliary services, Troy State University, Troy, Ala.)
Consensus: It’s starting to happen, and it will continue to grow.
Smith: "Our college is currently planning to collect tuition and fees online. I would expect the majority (probably 75 to 80 percent) of our student population to pay their tuition and fees online within the next five years. However, due to the nature of our constituency, I do not believe that the college will ever commit solely to the collection of tuition and fees online. Our students need the interaction associated with the registration process as we have many working adults, students with skill development issues and students who are the first person in their families to attend higher education."
Rapagnani: "You asked only for online payment. I would have to say that this will be possible within five years. However, some of our clients may not be in a position to perform this task. Some of them may not have credit cards and/or checking accounts, two key items needed to peform this transaction. So, for sometime to come, we will need to adjust to our clients’ capabilities."
Pierce: "Some of this is already being done now. Most colleges and universities are disclosing their fees online and, if they are not already doing online collection, they will be soon. As more and more campuses solve their secure server questions, this will allow them to collect fees across the Net. Here at TSU, we are already receiving payments across the Net for university merchandise, deposits to our one-card system and payments for real audio events."
8. When will college computer records be made 100 percent secure from unauthorized users?
(Respondents: Paul F. Smith, assistant vice chancellor, Administrative Services and Facilities, Pima County Community College District, Tucson, Ariz. Ronald I. Pierce, director of auxiliary services, Troy State University, Troy, Ala. Kenneth Bumgarner, associate vice president of university services, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.)
Consensus: Even if it is possible, do you want to spend the money it’s going to require?
Smith: "From my discussions with our director of information technology, computer records are becoming more and more secure. To say that anything is 100 percent secure is difficult, because of the persistence of those who may want to gain illegal access. The new software and hardware coming into service are making records more and more secure. If you remember the movie Mission: Impossible, you can understand why I believe that you cannot make records 100 percent secure. I believe that, within the next two years, college computer records will be, for all intents and purposes, secure."
Pierce: "This is an ongoing quest of every college and university. It depends on how much money each has to spend and how fast each wants to provide this type of service. Will it ever be 100 percent secured? You would hope so, but it would be hard for me to say yes. There is always someone out there trying to break into systems - just so they could say they did it."
Bumgarner: "The technology is already available; however, the cost and need for this high-level security may, in the end, drive decisions."
(Respondents: Michael Steger, director of physical plant services, Palm Beach Atlantic College, West Palm Beach, Fla., for National Management Resources Corp. Cheryl Mullin, director of facilities services, Franklin College, Franklin, Ind. Terrence J. Pellerin, associate director of physical plant, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass. Jan Schade, custodial services contract administrator for facilities planning and management at Washington University, St. Louis.)