New facilities chief surveys
state of campus
J. Fitzgibbons, Chronicle staff
| Ted Weidner
near the Old Chapel (Stan Sherer photo)
here's a lot going on and a lot that needs to go on."
That's how new
associate vice chancellor for Facilities and Campus Services Ted
Weidner sizes up the varied and far-flung operations that he now
to campus in June after holding similar positions at several other
schools, most recently a seven-year stint as director of facilities
planning and management at Eastern Illinois University. He began
his career in facilities at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where
he earned a Ph.D. in civil engineering, master's degrees in civil
engineering and architecture and a bachelor's degree in building
buildings, and I always have," he says. "I love it when
people find some element in a building they particularly like."
he hasn't fallen in love with any campus buildings yet, but several
The Fine Arts
Center, he says, is an "interesting building with unique challenges,"
while the Du Bois Library is "different from most I've been
in." Morrill Science Center has some "unique features,"
his conversation about the campus with the word "challenges."
That's no surprise given that UMass is two-thirds bigger than Eastern
Illinois and has a daunting backlog of deferred maintenance issues
-- more than $310 million worth, according to a 1995 study.
dollars, the problem is greater now," says Weidner. "Hopefully
we can get those funds either from the state, by University borrowing
or by getting far-sighted donors to respond to those needs."
in Massachusetts, Weidner says he's been struck by the inaction
on maintenance issues.
surprised mostly by the inability of the campus to date to really
get the message across that there are real needs," he says.
"We haven't found the right buttons to push in the state capital."
of facilities is often overlooked in discussions about higher education,
to preserve the significant investment taxpayers make in facilities,"
he says. Regardless of the role of private universities in the state,
Weidner adds, "There will be pressure in the not too distant
future for additional public education."
At the same time,
additional investment will be needed to support efforts like distance
education and other instructional technology.
get the faculty to say that all they need to teach is a log for
the students to sit on, we are going to need to continue to invest
in facilities," says Weidner.
also must be given to particular needs of a research university,
adds Weidner. "A lot of demand for facilities comes from researchers
and students who come here to learn."
Weidner, the campus must also factor in increasing numbers of government
regulations, rules and mandates.
all very correct and have everyone's best interests at heart,"
he says. "But all those rules come with a cost."
At the moment,
Weidner says he's still trying to get a handle on the state of the
campus. Along with meeting with school and college deans and vice
chancellors, he's also discussing priorities with his immediate
staff in Facilities and Campus Services.
future directions will "based on where the organization feels
it needs to go in order to serve the campus better," he says.
is inevitable in life. Facilities and Campus Services have made
some changes and more are likely," says Weidner. "Some
probably won't be that good, but that will be a learning experience."
he's open to differing viewpoints and opinions.
believe there are multiple solutions to a problem," he says.
"I really prefer to have other people come up with a solution
rather than me. That tends to work pretty well at a university."
many, many "challenges" he sees across campus, Weidner
will no doubt have many opportunities to test his problem-solving
strategy. He's clearly raring to give it a go.
he says. "I don't like to give up on a problem."