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New structure focuses on physical plant life cycle

May 15, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A veteran facilities management professional has been selected to lead a revamped Western Michigan University physical plant structure that is charged with managing the entire life cycle of all of the campus's facilities.

Peter J. Strazdas will lead WMU's newly realigned Facilities Management Department, which was formed in late April. The unit includes all areas that were previously part of the Physical Plant and Campus Facilities Development units and will encompass planning, engineering, project management and operations. The consolidation of all facility functions under one umbrella organization is expected to provide better coordination among all the functional areas that deal with campus facilities.

Strazdas, who has managed the maintenance services division of the physical plant since 1994, has been named associate vice president for facilities management. He has already begun his new responsibilities, and for the next few months, he will work along with senior administrator John Goes to complete the transformation process. Earlier this spring, Goes informed University officials of his intent to retire at the end of this year after directing the Physical Plant for nearly 20 years.

"The new structure will deal with the complete life cycle of capital projects, from the visioning and design phases, all the way through the construction, on going maintenance, and eventual structural updating and retrofitting," said Lowell P. Rinker in announcing the change. "We've made wonderful progress toward such a seamless organization with John Goes leading the Physical Plant, and I am very pleased that Pete Strazdas has agreed to accept this substantial increase in the scope of his responsibilities."

Strazdas has played a lead role over the past dozen years in streamlining the University's energy management and operating procedures as well as in enhancing the use of technology in managing facilities. During the period, campus building square footage has increased by 19 percent while at the same time, total energy consumption has decreased by 17 percent. In addition, the efficiency of response to building maintenance requests was increased through the use of an online paperless work-order system and equipping employees with handheld wireless devices linked to the University's software and databases.

"Western Michigan University has been a part of my entire working career," Strazdas says. "There are many dedicated people in the new integrated department, and I look forward to working with these professionals to manage our facility resources very carefully. We take our facility stewardship seriously, and our entire team will work together to improve efficiencies and customer service."

Strazdas has been a WMU employee since 1980. Before assuming his present duties at the Physical Plant in 1994, he was an engineering technology faculty member and later a construction administrator. He also served as president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kalamazoo in 1992 and served for five terms, by gubernatorial appointment, as a member of the Michigan Construction Safety Standards Commission, serving as that group's chair for several years. Since 2004, he has served as president of the Michigan Higher Education Facility Officers Association.

A resident of Portage, Strazdas is that city's mayor. He also has served as a member of both the Portage Planning Commission and Portage City Council and was president of the Portage Soccer Club from 2004 to 2008.

In addition to the planning, construction and renovation of University facilities, staff members in the newly realigned department are responsible for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the buildings, grounds, vehicles and utility systems of WMU's main Kalamazoo campus and seven regional sites. The unit employs some 469 people who manage over 8 million square feet of University space. Campus facilities include more than 1,200 acres of property, 49 miles of utility infrastructure, and 65.5 miles of sidewalk and roadways. The department annually dispatches 75 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 510 million pounds of steam per year.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400