We’re pleased to welcome Ron Thompson, the director of housing and residence life at Furman University. Based in South Carolina, Furman University is one of the nation’s top undergraduate liberal arts universities with a strong community where all students are housed onsite for four years, and an internationally-acclaimed campus which is recognized for its beauty. Ron shares some of his insights into higher education facilities management at Furman University with our readers.
In my day-to-day role I work with partners across campus – internal operations, financial services, academic affairs and, of course, facilities services. I’m also a bridge between residents and behind-the-scenes employees, and understand first-hand the importance of furniture asset management to all involved.
Furniture asset management can be tricky business, particularly in the higher education industry. All of our students live onsite, so their environment is a major part of their decision-making process, as well as their quality of life once they’ve enrolled. Developing a comfortable, well-maintained and healthy student environment requires both foresight and planning.
Versatility is also key. College campuses such as ours are used to host tradeshows, conferences and summer camps during the longer vacations. Furniture assets must not only be relevant to each of these audiences, but able to sustain the additional wear and tear.
At Furman we recognize the importance of well-maintained and updated assets, including furniture. So we have a furniture asset management strategy and plan that is clearly articulated to staff across departments – housing services, facilities, financial. This is essential to reducing costs, reducing downtime and ensuring satisfaction to all those we serve. With a clear understanding of your establishment’s furniture inventory at all times, it is simple to map out what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and what it will cost.
It’s also important to realize that it’s not all about buying new. We have utilized refinishing services on more than one occasion. Quality pieces need not be disposed of due to an outdated look and feel – refinishing provides a cost-friendly face-lift.
Last but not least, always consider the green approach. Consider and adopt LEED standards wherever possible. Be sure that your sustainability office is present for housing decision-making. And offer your students environmentally-friendly options such as recycling, energy management and water management.
At Furman, we’re proud of our Engaged Living program – which offers first year students a variety of on-campus communities to live in including an environmental community, where students live in our most sustainable facilities and enroll in environmental courses.
Higher education professionals at all levels have a difficult job. But the proper management of furniture assets can bring peace of mind to housing directors, financial staff and facilities management across campus.