Cameron Christensen is president of the Brigham Young University Student Chapter of APPA. This is his first article for Facilities Manager. He can be reached at cc335@email. byu.edu.
Along with two other officers of our student chapter at Brigham Young University (BYU), I had the opportunity of attending the Educational Facilities Leadership Forum in Nashville, Tennessee this past July. We could not have asked for a better welcome. Everyone we met was excited to have us at the conference, and, as a result, it was a great experience and one that I will remember for a lifetime.
At the Forum we had the opportunity to talk with many facility professionals. We talked about the organization of our student chapter of APPA and the quality of the facility management program at BYU. Almost everyone who heard about the BYU program brought up the concern that there is no emerging generation in the field of higher education facility management to whom managers can leave their knowledge and experience. One professional commented that 25 to 30 percent of the facility professionals in the field of higher education would retire within the next ten years.
Students are being trained in facility management; that is not the problem. There are approximately a dozen schools that offer facility management degrees or certificates. One problem may be that students are not receiving enough information about the higher education facility management field and therefore are not drawn to it.
When I began my pursuit of a degree in facility management I decided I wanted to enter the field of higher education. I was familiar with the pros and cons of the field because the BYU program works very closely with the physical facilities departments on campus. However, I didn’t feel that I was getting the information that was necessary to help make a proper decision. For that reason I proposed to start a student chapter of APPA
This article outlines the basic steps used in establishing the student chapter at BYU and gives the basic steps any institution can take to establish their own APPA student chapter.
How We Began
The facility management program has been in place at BYU since the mid-1950s. Over the past 50 years the program has grown to almost 100 students. The curriculum in facilities management, construction management, and business management, along with its reputation, place BYU graduates among the most recruited in the nation. For years, each facility management student was strongly encouraged to join the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). This association exposed students to the field of facility management and provided networking opportunities that hopefully would last the duration of their careers.
In 2001, I entered the facility management program at BYU. One of the requirements for graduation is completion of an internship with the physical plant on campus. As I finished up my internship, I realized that higher education was where I wanted to spend my career. While IFMA provided many opportunities in facilities management, it did not include much information in the field of higher education facility management. Where could this information be obtained? Since I knew many people associated with APPA and knew of its reputation as an association of and for higher education facility managers, it seemed like a good idea to establish a student chapter of APPA.
We started by selecting a faculty advisor. On campus we have access to a past president of APPA and a tireless volunteer. We invited him to be our faculty advisor and he accepted. Together we formed a presidency, authored Bylaws, and recruited members. At the 2003 Forum in Nashville, my two fellow officers of BYU’s student chapter and I had the opportunity to meet with the president, president-elect, executive vice president of APPA, and the RMA regional president to discuss the final details of the organization and to launch the chapter.
How to Establish a Student Chapter
The first step in establishing a student chapter of APPA on your campus is to determine if it is feasible. Are there enough students in facility or construction management who would join the chapter? Is there a possible faculty advisor? These issues and others must be discussed with either a member of the APPA staff or Board of Directors before the organization of a chapter continues. If it is feasible to continue, APPA will send a packet of detailed information outlining the steps for establishment of the chapter.
After this packet is received, the college or department representative for the facility or construction
management program will select a faculty advisor. This advisor should be familiar with the program, the facility management field, and with APPA. The faculty advisor should then select a student to serve as the first president-elect of the chapter. It is worthy to note that the president-elect must be able to serve for two years (i.e., have two years left in school). The faculty advisor and president-elect next select a vice president for educational programs, a vice president for information and research, and a secretary-treasurer. These officers shall review the Bylaws and make any necessary changes to adapt to their situations. Finally, after the organization and functionality is established, a formal proposal must be submitted to APPA for ratification of the chapter. Then, if all is well, the new student chapter can register as an entity in APPA and individual members will be allowed to register under their respective chapter.
Benefits of Student Chapters
There are many positive benefits for creating a student chapter. Two of those benefits are:
As you work to establish your own student chapter and hopefully realize some of these same benefits, you may experience a few benefits unique to your situation. For students interested in higher education facility management as a career, establishing and/or joining a student chapter of APPA is an excellent way to become educated and integrated into the field.