Facilities and Security
In a little-known corner of campus, down a flight of stairs, beneath Alexis Hall, the Facilities department manages its business. Facilities Supervisor Pablo Negreros checks his computer for work orders, then assigns duties to his staff. On any given day, they could be replacing screens on windows, patching leaks or cutting grass. Negreros doesn’t just delegate responsibilities; he frequently fulfills work orders himself. Earlier today, he helped move pianos in Garson Theatre, and during the summer, he helped mow the grass. Some of the groundskeeping duties reverted to Facilities staff when the goat herd, formerly kept in a small pen at the back of campus, was sold last year. The goats helped manage overgrowth on campus.
“It’s better,” Negreros says. “They have a bigger, open space now.”
“We just have the one, now, in there,” says Safety and Security Manager Larry Samuel, referring to a papier-mâché goat in the Facilities main office.
Negreros and Samuel aren’t just filling in for goats these days. Peter Romero retired from his position as director of Facilities over the summer, leaving Negreros and Samuel to take on additional work. SFUAD maintains a holding pattern, not making any major changes to faculty and staff until it receives clearance from Singapore-based Raffles Education Corporation, which is still in the process of closing their deal to purchase the school.
“We’ve just got more responsibility on a day-to-day basis, “Samuel says, “and we’re going to more meetings.”
Director of Finance Steven Posey oversees both departments as Interim Director of Facilities and Security.
“When Peter left, there was a need for leadership in the department,” Posey says, “especially with students returning for the new school year and the upcoming [Higher Learning Commission] visit.” Posey speaks with Negreros and Samuel several times a day, “primarily assessing department needs for resources and balancing those with resources available.”
Negreros and Samuel are also picking up the slack for Facilities’ recently vacated Office Manager role.
“They’re going to advertise the position, but for now we’re tackling that as well,” Negreros says. “I would like to ask for help when the new company takes the school. We have a lot of work to do to improve the campus. We’re probably going to need more equipment, better equipment than we have right now. And more help, more staff.”
Samuel assists Negreros in managing Facilities operations while also overseeing the Safety and Security department. Though the Security officers on campus are employees of the independently-contracted Securitas Security Services USA, they report directly to Samuel for all university related matters.
“All that stuff that Peter used to do, we do now. I make sure security is there to keep students and faculty safe,” Samuel says.
Negreros and Samuel had the opportunity to meet Raffles Education CEO Chew Hua Seng and his wife during their visit to campus two weeks ago, accompanying them across campus for tours and even driving them to their hotel.
“They were very friendly people,” Samuel says. “We took them to certain classrooms while class was going on, because they wanted to see it.”
“Especially in Garson Theatre, for rehearsals,” Negreros adds. “In the dance studio, they were practicing. He was watching and he liked it.”
But just because the sale is pending, that doesn’t mean the departments are standing still.
“We had some roof leaks in Mouton that were pretty serious,” Posey says. “We did a patch job, but we’re planning to replace the roof in the next couple of months. Provided we don’t have any more significant leaks, we’ll do it during the winter break.”
Negreros expects to address the same problem in campus apartments, which suffered from leaks after a month of significant rainfall.
“We’re working on that right now, getting contractors,” Samuel says.
The Security department also soldiered forward to improve campus safety, making the LiveSafe app available to students, a project originally proposed by Romero.
The smartphone app is “available for iOS and Android,” Posey says, “though I don’t know if they have a Windows version.”
LiveSafe allows students to monitor their friends as they cross the campus late at night, and contact security officers with the push of a button. The app only functions to contact security while students are on campus, utilizing a process known as geofencing to create a virtual perimeter around the campus. For any safety matters outside this perimeter, Posey says students should call 911.
“It’s going pretty well,” Samuel says with regard to the app’s initial implementation. “We have a few people who have actually used it already, but we need to get more people on it.”
Samuel demonstrated LiveSafe to new students at orientation, and also educated faculty and staff on how to use it. He says Student Life will send out another notice to students to remind them about the program.
Though there was a great deal of turmoil between students and campus security last semester, Samuel says there hasn’t been much trouble to speak of since the new school year started.
“So far, it seems like students have been satisfied with what we’re doing,” Samuel says. “We try to help out as much as we can, because that’s what we’re here for.”
The department managers are both on call 24/7, returning to campus as necessary to assist with emergencies. For Samuel, it’s a short drive from Tesuque Pueblo, but Negreros has to drive more than an hour to get to the school from his ranch in Ojo Caliente. During the winter, he stays on campus, as the long drive would hinder his response time.
“When we get 2 to 3 inches of snow or more, I have to call the guys to come over here and clean the sidewalks and get them ready for students,” Negreros says.
With LaSalle Hall no longer filled with students, Negreros typically stays in one of the dormitory’s rooms when necessary. Frequent ghost stories attributed to the facility may merely be sightings of the facilities supervisor.
“They see him,” Samuel says. “He’s the ghost.”