Casey Bleuel file photo
A new year and a new maintenance director have changed the way Mercyhurst cares for the campus. With a historic campus and Erie weather, there are many maintenance challenges each year.
“I’ve been the general manager for facilities for about nine months now. What we really started was we divided the needs of the school by seasons. Within those seasons we saw what we needed to be successful,” General Manager Forest Davis said.
Winter in Erie has difficult weather conditions for maintenance to handle.
“Snow removal is the biggest thing in the winter. We bought three new plows and developed a new snow plan to make snow removal more methodical,” Davis said.
Each season has particular challenges. Summer is always a season of preparation for the next year to come.
“In the summer months we have student turnover. We are able to fix a lot of the latent issues that, because of the weather, we just can’t get to in the winter,” Davis said.
While some problems can be tricky to tackle, the staff is working hard to actually solve the causes of the problems that emerge.
“We are trying to stay away from slapping a Band-Aid or a new coat of paint on a problem,” Davis said.
Maintenance is also focusing more on communication with students and the university.
“We are moving to improve bedside manner. Since I’ve been here the staff is working to be more approachable to the students,” Davis said.
Last semester, maintenance conducted a survey in order to get students’ opinions on their new approach.
“The results are back and they were fairly positive but with a little constructive criticism: the main thing being a lack of communication with the students when fixing problems,” said Davis.
“Sometimes we have to call in an outside contractor to help with the plumbing, but that is not always communicated to the students and they are left wondering whether or not the problem was fixed.”
There will always be some issues that arise, but overall maintenance is working to help prevent problems.
“Last year, I saw a lot of reactive issues, like putting out a fire instead of preventing it. A lot of what we are doing is changing our operations, updating systems and making areas, especially academic areas, more comfortable for students,” Davis said.
While Mercyhurst’s historic nature provides certain maintenance issues, it is a truly beautiful campus and maintenance is working hard to preserve that.