January 10, 2014
Scott Weber and his team play key role in campus improvements
With students on semester break, the SIU campus appears quiet this time of year. That is hardly the case.
Enhancing the learning, teaching and living environments is an ongoing process. While the spectacular Student Services Building may be our most visible sign of progress, our physical plant staff has its hands full. Hundreds of projects under way right now, ranging from renovations in 61 classrooms and 10 laboratories, to transforming the sixth and seventh floors of Morris Library into much-needed collaborative learning spaces for students.
Plenty more is on the drawing boards in the offices of our university engineer, Scott Weber, and his team of architects and engineers. Scott has held a number of positions within Plant and Service Operations since joining the SIU family as a design engineer in 1991. He has been in his current role since 2001, and he has a hand in every physical change on the campus – from cosmetic upgrades in an office to Saluki Way. Large projects, such as the Student Services Building, take years to plan. Scott was involved on a daily basis, from the initial conversations to October’s grand opening.
“Of all the buildings I’ve been a part of, that one has the most character on the outside and the inside,” he said. “We wanted students and families to have a positive experience starting with when they arrive at the building. Once they are inside, there’s the ‘wow’ factor, and then we wanted to make sure it is easy for them to navigate.”
Scott always does his homework. That is readily apparent in our many meetings about ongoing and planned projects. Whether we are discussing converting a former library storage facility into space to enhance interdisciplinary research, the construction of long-needed campus housing, or an addition and renovations to the Communications Building – all currently in the planning stages -- I rely on Scott’s expertise and his focus on the needs of students, faculty and staff. I know I can count on his steady leadership and attention to detail from concept, to design, to the bidding of contracts, through construction.
“Every project, from concept to completion, has its own set of challenges,” Scott said. “We have to keep each one on track for scope, budget, and schedule. We put a lot of time into them, so we have an investment in the outcome. When you see a building in use, when you know you have achieved the original mission for the project, that’s very satisfying.”
I also appreciate his commitment, and that of his team, to sustainability. We are proud to have earned Leadership in Energy and Energy Design (LEED) silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for our Transportation Education Center. But as Scott points out, sustainability has long been a cornerstone of sound design practice at SIU.
“We think about the life-cycle of the items we put into a building, their energy savings, what it takes to maintain those items,” he said. “It is good stewardship of the environment. But we also are always thinking about the longevity of our facilities.”
As is true throughout the SIU community, Scott and his team are working diligently behind the scenes to ensure the success of our students and our university.