By Ryan Swanson, Associate VP, Facilities & University Architect
I hope everyone enjoyed a well-deserved holiday break. A big thank you goes out to those of you who attended to critical tasks in the physical plant here on campus last week and over break. The Manhattan campus was very quiet with no major unforeseen events – as it should be due in large part to the work many of you do behind the scenes.
As for my crew, we had a great time visiting family and friends. Rebecca, Annika, Nels and I have learned the Kansas landmarks (west on Highways 24 and 36 to Phillipsburg and then north) so well that Annika has stopped asking how much farther it is to grandma’s house. Instead, she updates the ETA to the rest of us as we pass key places like implement dealerships, windmill farms, and the occasional convenience stop.
Speaking of the landmarks and paths we travel, 2016 will be filled with many for the K-State Family. We’ve officially moved into the new Engineering Phase IV building – adding 3 new fulltime custodians and an additional team member soon to be on board for building maintenance Zone Team 1. The month of May will mark the opening of our new front door at the Berney Family Welcome Center in historic East Stadium. May also brings us the closing of Mid Campus Drive to daily traffic as we lay down the last sections of the new campus chilled water loop and create a new pedestrian centered walking mall complete with new site lighting, outdoor seating and natural landscape features. July means serious business as the new CBA building wraps up construction. In August we’ll move students into the new 8 story 540 bed Wefald Residence Hall and Dining Center and the Student Union renovation project should be very close to wrapping up in December. If you add in the new North East Connector project at Bill Snyder Family Stadium we’ll put a great big purple K-State bow on seven major landmark projects at the end of this New Year.
As a Facilities Department we recently had the pleasure of seeing our new budget request proceed past the second round with the campus budget committee. This request includes additional funding for new building utilities, staff, and operational expenses. We asked for a total of 19 new centrally funded front line staff in the areas of custodial, landscape, maintenance and chill plant operations starting in the 2017-18 FY. We do not yet know the final outcome of our request, although we remain highly hopeful in receiving added resource assistance in these mission critical areas. I’ll keep you posted on the final outcome as soon as I know more.
Kudos to the entire team on the great things I see happening out on campus. I’m walking campus more (part of my New Year’s resolution to be healthier) and I truly enjoy seeing the enthusiasm you all have as you work. I try to stop and say hello to as many of you as I can. If you see me pass by, feel free to simply catch me for a quick conversation. I’m always interested in what you’re doing and learning how I can help get the resources you need to do it better. This is truly a special place and you make a world of difference in the lives of the students, staff, faculty, administration and the alumni through the work we do together each day.
2016 is a big year for K-State – let’s all make it a safe and productive one together!