July 12, 2013
Brad Dillard, facilities staff play key role on campus
If you have visited campus recently, you likely have seen signs of significant progress, including the Student Services Building, which will open this fall, and the Pulliam Hall improvements. Many other projects are underway, such as adding dozens of video cameras to the 400 already in place as we continue to enhance safety.
There are different signs of progress in Brad Dillard’s office -- items from areas of campus, such as our steam tunnels, that few of us ever see. The associate director of facilities in our Plant and Service Operations division, Brad likes to show off broken and rusted-out sections of pipes and other “souvenirs” from the campus’ aging infrastructure that his crews have replaced. We’ve made great progress in recent years, but we still have a long way to go.
A Carbondale native and two-degree graduate of SIU, many of you know Brad as director of the River to River Relay. He also helps operate the scoreboard and timing clocks for home football and men’s basketball games.
With 26 years in facilities – beginning in 1987 as a student – Brad knows the campus inside and out. He oversees our power plant, the maintenance division, key control and the grounds department.
Just to give you an idea of some of the facilities staff’s responsibilities, they maintain: 5.5 million square feet of academic space, 1.5 million square feet of housing space, 14 miles of roads and drives, 28 miles of sidewalks, 12,000 parking spaces, and more than 40,000 doors and locks just in the academic areas of campus. The 120-member staff responds to an average of 10,000 service requests annually, handling heating and cooling needs, plumbing problems, water main breaks, fire alarm malfunctions, and lighting issues, among others.
“Facilities is a 24-hour business,” Brad said. “You really have to have the commitment because it’s not just 9 to 5.”
On a recent Friday afternoon, a major problem developed with air conditioning equipment that cools 40 percent of the campus. Facilities staff worked throughout the weekend; several even drove to Champaign for refrigerant because none was available locally.
“When you sign on for facilities, you don’t get to fix things only when you want to or when it’s convenient,” Brad said. “The campus is counting on all of us.”
As we continue to upgrade facilities, Brad and his staff are taking advantage of technology to monitor and regulate campus conditions. They also are planning ahead, regularly walking through the Student Services Building, for example.
“As often as we can, we go through it to see what’s behind the walls and in the ceiling,” he said. “That is a very complex building with a lot of moving parts. We want to be ready.”
Growing up, Brad envisioned a career as a meteorologist. So, it’s fitting that he also serves as our “unofficial meteorologist,” helping to keep us safe. Brad and his staff monitor a weather station atop the physical plant building 24 hours a day, and subscribe to a private forecasting service. I know we can rely on Brad’s assessment of a storm’s path and necessary precautions.
They often operate behind the scenes, but Brad and the dedicated facilities staff are among the keys to our success.