by Madalyn Johnson & Christine Nappi, Asst. A&E Editor & Staff Writer
As the Manhattan College community started the year off with a number of staff shake ups and the announcement of the search for a new provost, another new staff member will need to join the team soon. Andrew Ryan, who served as the Vice President of Facilities, has departed from the college, leaving the important role vacant in the middle of the semester. With as many challenges as the school’s facilities face, students and faculty are concerned with who will be hired for the position, how soon the role will get filled, and what action the school will take to improve the campus.
Andrew Ryan served as Manhattan College’s vice president of facilities for 11 years and was in charge of all major constructive projects on campus. He graduated from Manhattan College with a degree in electrical engineering granting him a professional engineering license in the states of New York and New Jersey.
According to Matthew McManness, Manhattan College’s Vice President of Finance, Ryan’s departure may seem sudden to the school at large, but the college had time to prepare for it.
“Andy informed me that he was leaving the College about a month before his departure. I am serving in an interim role working with the Facilities team until the President determines next steps in filling the position. As he left, we coordinated our planning meetings and I met with the Facilities team to insure a smooth transition,” said McManness.
Though Ryan’s job was riddled with challenges, he also accomplished a lot in the 11 years he spent in the role.
“Andy has accomplished a great deal, most notably overseeing the construction of the Raymond W. Kelly Student Commons, the Patricia and Neil Higgins ’62 Engineering and Science Center, and major renovations to Leo Engineering, De La Salle Hall, and Smith Hall. In addition, he oversaw the process leading to the creation of the College’s current facilities Master Plan,” said McManness.
The process in searching for a new VP of facilities is an intensive and important process.
“In higher education and in this position the position is first reviewed for comprehensiveness by members of the President’s Senior Team with some collaboration with the Board of Trustees Facilities Committee. The position will then be advertised nationally through several media outlets including the Chronicle for Higher Education. Generally the entire process takes 3-4 months,” said McManness.
McManness hopes the new VP will be self motivated, have strong analytical and problem solving, leadership, IT and communication skills. In addition, McManness would like to see the next VP of Facilities have experience in plant HVAC systems and hopes they will serve “as a community liaison to represent the College on local issues concerning buildings and grounds.”
As the school sets out to search for a new VP of Facilities that has all the desired skills and attitudes necessary, some students and faculty have their own idea of what they would like to see from the new hire.
A new non-Student Government recognized club, The Mother Nature Club, advocates for sustainable practices throughout campus to better the environment on campus and in the community as a whole. As word got out that the school was in need of a new VP of Facilities, members of the club and Pamela Chasek, faculty advisor for the club, have started to hope that the role will be filled with someone who cares about the “carbon footprint” of the college.
Ryan leaving has given the Mother Nature Club and the campus community an opportunity to push for feasible solutions to a variety of facility issues and advocate for eco-friendly options on campus that they hope the new VP of Facilities will consider.
“If the college truly wants to improve on sustainability on campus, here’s a great opportunity to put your money where your mouth is and hire the right person,” Chasek said.
Chasek felt that Ryan’s main concern for overseeing facilities was the upfront cost of initiatives, which took away progress from the goal of becoming a more sustainable campus. Despite misconceptions, Chasek explained that cost should not be a concern when trying to implement sustainability.
“A lot of people have the mindset that being sustainable and reducing your carbon footprint is going to cost you a lot but it’s actually going to save so much money,” Chasek said. “There’s a lot of ways we can reduce costs while being more sustainable and I think he missed that.”
The Mother Nature Clubs hopes that sustainability will be a part of the new mandate when it comes to searching for a new VP of facilities.
Students are hoping to see a change in the actions of the new VP of facilities. They hope the person taking over Ryan’s role will listen to student input and concentrate on implementing initiatives that can benefit the school, as well as the global community.
“In the new VP of facilities, we’re looking for someone who is open minded or has a track record of promoting sustainability initiatives,” said Junior Matt Sweeny, Vice President of Manhattan College’s New York Water Environment Association chapter. “The former VP was not so proactive in promoting sustainability ideas that were put forth, so we want to put someone on the search committee that can give our voice in terms of sustainability.”
As Chasek described, the college has “deferred maintenance” on issues of concern on campus, such as the elevator systems in Horan. According to Chasek, the college will defer handling certain issues due to financial reasons, which in turn causes more problems on campus.
To voice concerns of students regarding sustainability and maintenance issues, members of the Mother Nature Club have formed a petition to outline the needs they hope the new VP of facilities will meet.
“The student body is the majority and we should be able to express that we want to have more sustainable goals,” sophomore Sydney Collins said. “People of our generation really care about that and we want to see that in administration.”