Gary Reed says he’s “honored and very excited” to be named director of Facilities Planning and Management at Eastern Illinois University – a campus he considers “a small city in itself.”
The Watson resident and 16-year employee of the institution began his career at Eastern in 1989, when he was named superintendent of utilities. From 2000-2003, he served as assistant to the director and, for the past 19 months, he has served as acting director.
As director, Reed reports directly to Jeff Cooley, vice president for business affairs, and is responsible for the supervision, coordination and administration of programs and activities related to the university’s physical facilities.
“I am very pleased to have Mr. Reed accept the position of director of Facilities Planning and Management,” Cooley said.
“We had an excellent candidate pool, and the screening committee did an outstanding job of bringing an exceptional list of candidates forward. They put me in the enviable position of having to make a hard choice between several exceptional candidates.
“In the end, I felt Mr. Reed’s knowledge, experience and commitment to customer service made him the logical choice for the director’s position.”
Reed appreciates just what kind of responsibility his new job entails. Eastern’s campus, spread out over 325 acres of ground, includes 3.2 million square feet of building space, more than a mile of underground steam tunnels and a total operating budget of approximately $160 million.
Currently, the FPM division employs just under 150 employees, including (but not limited to) building service workers, trades people (e.g., carpenters, electricians, painters, laborers, plumbers and roofers) and groundskeepers. In addition, all campus renovations, alterations, construction and project management activities are handled through the FPM Design and Construction section.
Other departments within the division include the university motor pool, environmental control, the steam production plant, property control and central stores, which is, in part, responsible for managing maintenance materials inventory and for receiving purchased items for the entire EIU campus.
Being a veteran of Eastern’s FPM division, Reed already appreciates those he will be most closely working with. “It’s a tremendous staff across the board,” he said. “Tops as far as trades, professional and support personnel go. There isn’t one who’s not a team player or who doesn’t care deeply about EIU.”
He stresses, however, the importance of communication with the entire campus community – administration, faculty, staff and students.
“In my job, I have had the opportunity to talk to a large number of people on campus,” Reed said. “And I want to continue to keep the lines of communication open. If the campus community knows what we’re doing – what projects and maintenance activities are under way – and why we need to do them, those folks are going to support us in what needs to be done. This level of cooperation is essential to a successful facilities operation.”
As he officially settles in as director, Reed said he expects several things to happen. In addition to the emphasis on customer relations, he would like to see the division devote more time to “pro-active maintenance.”
“Being pro-active means not waiting for things to break, but taking care of equipment and systems so they do not fail in the first place,” he said.
He also believes there are other creative ways to bring improvements to campus.
“More effort will be put toward seeking grant funding and finding innovative ways to bring about facilities improvements and reductions in our huge deferred-maintenance backlog,” he said. “We have done much, but new challenges continue to outpace solutions. We will strive to find alternative ways to solve problems with the goal of keeping EIU at the top in higher education.”
Along that line, Reed already has a proven track record. “Eastern has the lowest utility cost per square foot of any public university in Illinois,” Cooley said. “This is due, in no small part, to Mr. Reed’s efforts to promote energy conservation on campus.”
Reed also wants to work with the campus community in taking a detailed look at the campus master plan, established in April 1999, to determine whether the plan still meets the needs and mission of the university.
The plan was developed as a three-phase recommendation for campus development, with each phase representing a five-year period.
“Here in facilities, we look at the plan weekly, sometimes daily, as a guide document,” Reed said. “We take our campus master plan that seriously."