Picture this: You have a 9:30 a.m. meeting and want to use the restroom before it starts. You do so and as you go to flush, you notice — no water. You go to the sink and discover the same — no water. You head back to your office and along the way, realize that water has been shut off to the entire building. If only there was a way for you to have known that the water would be turned off due to maintenance on the pipes. Enter — a Facilities Management (FM) liaison.
An initiative that has been in existence for nearly two decades, UNLV’s FM liaison program is an important function in the successful daily operation of campus buildings. Liaisons serve as conduits of two-way information and communication between Facilities Management — the department that oversees the program — and building occupants.
“Every liaison has a building-wide email list. When they get a communication [information about the type of work taking place] from Facilities Management, ideally, they reproduce it and send it out to patrons. Essentially, liaisons are the eyes and ears for their buildings and report concerns to Facilities Management,” said Mike Bailey, assistant director for support in Facilities Management and the program’s overseer.
The program benefits everyone involved, including building occupants and visitors, facilities teams, and liaisons.
A Day in the Life of a FM Liaison
Liaisons fulfill a role that often goes beyond relaying information between Facilities Management and building occupants. For the Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex liaison, Mike Flores, that role included leading the effort to ensure the college passed its most recent accreditation inspection by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
“I started preparing for the accreditation visit that took place this October a year ago. The dean and I walked through the entire building inside and out. From there, I worked with the lab directors, department chairs, and Risk Management and Safety (RMS) to ensure that teaching equipment, personal protective equipment, structures, and other pertinent aspects of the building were what they should be,” says Flores.
The two-and-a-half-day visit is conducted by a team of engineering professors and practicing engineers from around the country who evaluate all aspects of a program including evaluating labs and curriculum. Flores created monthly updates, received regular reports from RMS about issues that needed addressing, and implemented a review system to ensure protocols and procedures were in place and followed.
“I personally went into each lab once a week to ensure everything was what it needed to be,” says Flores.
The result of Flores' commitment to his role as a liaison is commendable. Engineering's facilities were found adequate, with the ABET team ending their visit lauding the building’s exceptional condition. Flores continues to personally inspect each lab weekly, a practice that allows him to keep on top of any urgent issues.
With the support of his supervisor and the dedication of his colleagues, Flores was able to maximize the effectiveness of his liaison role, helping the Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex to continue to meet its educational and research missions.
Benefits of the FM Liaison Program
Liaisons are critical to Facilities Management’s ability to provide exceptional service to its constituents, and as demonstrated by Flores, are vital players in aligning building standards and policies. They are the bridge between occupants and Facilities Management; a relationship that is not quite direct at times.
“The building liaisons I've worked with have been very approachable, friendly, helpful in getting me the information I need to perform work and also getting information out to building occupants making them aware my paint crew and I will be performing work in the building or specific areas,” says Casey Sierra, a paint shop supervisor in Facilities Maintenance who works closely with liaisons.
Vigilance is an important aspect of a liaison’s duties. Awareness of what a building has or needs to implement to keep occupants safe is a top priority.
“The program is in place to lessen hazards and promote safety,” says Bailey.
Daily, countless people enter UNLV buildings, many of which do not require secured access. In the wake of national trending gun violence in public places as well as other acts of crime common on college campuses, a liaison’s attention to safety details is paramount.
“I played a key role in working with Police Services on a building walk-through and safety and security report, which resulted in the recommendation to have the south (front) entry locked, making CSB [Campus Services Building] a completely secure building,” says Amy Carito, executive assistant in the office of the senior vice president for business affairs and CSB’s FM liaison.
The program’s focus on safety and customer service align with UNLV’s Top Tier 2.0 Infrastructure and Shared Governance goals and places the university’s goal front and center.
“Building liaison's play a significant role across campus because they are the compass of their building. They navigate everyone where they need to go, and they are the centerpiece of operations and its building environment,” says Sierra.
About the Program
The program currently has approximately twenty-three liaisons across UNLV’s campuses who are compensated for their time with a free annual parking pass.
Ideally, each building has one representative and an alternate who can fill in for the primary liaison if needed. Individuals who take on either role gain exposure, leadership experience, and are presented with an opportunity to positively impact campus.
“My relationship with RMS grew because of my liaison position and involvement in the College of Engineering’s accreditation. My role strengthens my communication and people skills as well as creates and fosters working relationships with the building occupants,” said Flores.
“I think it’s important to have one point of contact for coordination and messaging and to have that component of standardization. That way folks always know who they can contact for questions or concerns, and to get the facts,” says Carito.
To support liaisons, Facilities Management conducts orientation and provides trainings through the following:
- Familiarizing liaisons with programs and processes essential to their responsibilities
- Providing resources for information sharing including templates for commonly distributed messages and a WebCampus module for sharing information among the liaison group
- Hosting liaison meetings and offering opportunities for question and answer sessions
- Communicating information to liaisons in a timely manner and with advance notice when possible
- Establishing points of contact within Facilities Management who support FM liaisons
Facilities Management and the liaison program continues to be a valuable asset to the UNLV community. You can