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The Facilities Visionary

AU Offers New Options and Tools For Commuters



American University offers a wide variety of transportation tools for commuters. The university’s new transportation website provides members of the AU community with information on ways to get around.

The website also is a great tool for those who have been or will be affected by SafeTrack, the accelerated track work plan to address safety recommendations and rehabilitate the Metrorail system. The maintenance work is expected to reduce the number of trains and cause longer travel times. A full schedule of SafeTrack-related service changes can be found on our transportation website. AU has a variety of commuter programs in place to help during SafeTrack. Consider taking advantage of our occasional parking program, flex-work policy , resources for bicyclists and RideAmigos.

RideAmigos is a new transportation service that allows registered members to map their daily commute, see all their commuting options, locate a carpool partner, and explore additional commuting options. RideAmigos is available to all members of the AU community and the easy registration process can be done on the AU RideAmigos website. Early registrants will be eligible for prizes.

Visit the new website and consider all of your available commuting options. Remember walking, biking, public transportation, and carpooling all have less impact on the environment than driving alone.

Leading the Finance Resource Center


In August of 2011, Facilities Administrative Services created the Finance Resource Center (FRC) as part of a strategic vision to implement a customer-focused resource that provides better financial support to the Office of Finance and Treasurer (OFT).

The FRC’s goal was to build on the foundation of established business relationships, by assisting customers to develop best practices that would produce sound business decisions. The FRC continues to achieve this goal through a method they like to call “The Cradle to Grave Accounting,” in which they work in partnership with their clients from the start to finish of each fiscal year. Specifically, the FRC assists customers on front-end budget preparation, allowing them to glean a better understanding of their needs and intent towards spending.

The FRC’s early participation in the budgeting process helps make it easier to identify potential anomalies in spending patterns throughout the year. When they know the intent of a procurement decision, they can better assist customers with justifying new estimates based on historical spending trends. When the FRC knows the intent of their source documents, they can link them to the correct funding source, ensuring transactions are posted in the appropriate period for accurate month-end reporting.

The FRC acts as their customer’s “Go-To unit” when they have questions concerning operation spending. They stand with their customers when the fiscal year opens, and stand with them when the fiscal year closes – cradle to grave accounting.

Commissioning and East Campus


East Campus

Since 2012, Energy and Engineering (E&E) has collaborated with Facilities Management and Planning and Project Management to establish and integrate AU’s commissioning program for all new facilities construction (capital projects and major renovations). The program was envisioned by Vin Harkins who tasked E&E with its implementation.

Commissioning is a quality assurance process that helps the university ensure that its projects and facilities are consistent with the University's Design and Construction Standards. The program emphasizes life cycle cost-based decision making, meets operational needs and sustainability goals, and ultimately achieves design and construction intent. Commissioning is another way for AU to ensure that it is building and maintaining the best facilities to support learning, living, and working on campus.

The program has been well supported across the Division of Finance and Treasury starting with the authorization of capital funding for a commissioning FTE (currently the Construction Standards and Acceptance Manager position) which enabled us to develop a well-organized, collaborative and tenacious approach to ensuring American University’s consultants and contractors deliver buildings that function as designed and fulfill the expectations of our users. Facilities Managements works with the project team, the departments, and faculty, staff and students to balance how the building operates now and in the future with the costs of construction and operation.

“The in-house commissioning program has really put Facilities Management on the map. It’s helped my group have some skin in the game, as well as have some empowerment over what’s delivered,” said Vincent Harkins, Assistant VP, Facilities Management.

Since 2012 AU’s Washington College of Law and East Campus construction have presented lots of learning and developmental opportunities for our Commissioning program. As a result of the experience and knowledge garnered from building an entire law school campus and the ongoing construction of five housing facilities, Commissioning has evolved into a well-organized, highly functioning program that helps achieve the university’s objectives.

Today, the new WCL campus is fully functional and East Campus is about to be completed, punched out, and commissioned with nearly 370,000 gross square feet (across the eight-acre campus).

With these two massive projects under their belts, AU now has a seasoned staff, published design standards, and a mature commissioning process in addition to senior- and mid-level managers who are committed to the team effort. As a result, AU now benefits from an FM crew who are experienced in reviewing facility design drawings and material submittals for appropriateness and ease of maintenance.

During the last year, 34 different front-line staff supplemented the Commissioning Team and management by participating in 279 document reviews and commissioning support activities. More than 1000 comments and suggestions were sent back to the various capital, renovation or renewal, and upgrade project teams.

On East Campus alone, FM has spent more than 450 hours of technician’s time during the past year, saving AU about $1.2 million for a return of about $2,800 per hour spent (savings on the order of 50 times our billable rate). Just as importantly, FM and AU staff are well informed of the issues and challenges on this massive project. As we head into a busy year ahead with contractors focused on completing projects, we can rest assured that our previous preparation and leadership have proven already that our time committed to the projects has a substantial impact on our bottom line.

How Time Flies: An Interview with Vincent Harkins


During the recent Staff Appreciation Week events, in addition to an unprecedented championship showing in the staff volleyball tournament, Facilities Management staff was recognized for several noticeable milestones. Vin Harkins, our Assistant Vice President and leader of Facilities Management celebrated his fifth year as an AU staff member. Recently, we spoke with Vin to gain some insight on what he sees as the accomplishments of his first five years as well as a glimpse into the future.

Looking back the last five years what is your biggest accomplishment?

I would like to say that creating a cohesive and hardworking team has been a huge accomplishment. Facilities Management has become a well-respected and integral part of the AU campus. From the creation of an energy management team and the all-encompassing commissioning team, FM as a whole has saved millions of dollars for the university, and every division within FM has played a major part in that success.


Since you started here in January 2011, the university commenced a capital construction program with a budget exceeding $500 million. Cassell Hall and Washington College of Law at Tenley were completed. What are the biggest lessons learned that Facilities Management can use to prepare us for East Campus and eventually for the Life Science building? 

The biggest lessons learned to help us prepare for any new construction include the importance of diligence, a sense of urgency, and clear communication. Our commissioning program was in its infancy stage in 2011-12. Since then, we have built an entire program from the ground up that is the backbone for all the projects. Besides the benefit of the savings, we now hold everyone accountable to deliver the projects as designed and in a working condition that we were able to dictate.


What were the biggest challenges you faced? Can you share some of the measures you took to overcome those challenges?

The biggest challenge in the beginning was to learn what everyone was doing and figure out the lines of communication. We were able to create a few new positions that were key to start building a “Best in Class” facilities organization. We also built a better avenue for communication – not just between other departments, but within our own division. The collaboration between Facilities Ops, Energy and Engineering, and CRDM helped us become unified in our mission and reintroduced an incredible team effort.


Do you have a message for the Facilities team as far as what your expectation is?

From day one, I have had an open-door policy that many have utilized. My expectations have been clear: I want to produce a “Best in Class’ facilities organization. Complete ownership and accountability are the first steps towards that goal. I think we have made great strides towards achieving this goal.


I am sure you and others will agree that there is no silver bullet to our success. Can you highlight one thing we should keep doing that would be a key to our success as a team?

Communication is the key to our organization becoming and remaining as the go-to facilities department for other universities to emulate our success. The smarter we are, the more efficient we become. When the folks take advantage of the numerous training opportunities and mentorship programs, we develop from within and really become teachers for our team.


Looking forward, what is your vision for preparing and guiding the team through the challenges to come?

I think we always need to act with a sense of urgency – not one of reaction. With the capital construction program not seemingly winding down anytime soon, the more homework and familiarization we absorb, the easier the transition to maintaining these buildings and systems will be. We are well on our way to becoming a showcase university from all aspects of our facilities. I look forward to the next five years and all the challenges and successes that are ahead.

So Long Class of 2016


So Long Class of 2016

On May 8, more than 3,000 of our students joined the ranks of 120,000 others who can say proudly that they graduated from American University. This special day for these graduates and their families and friends always requires a tremendous amount of planning and execution by a lot of people throughout the university. This annual celebration of achievement is one of the best examples of how AU faculty and staff work together for a common goal.

Lisa Arakaki, Senior Director of Special Events for the President’s Office, said she relies heavily on FM staff to pull off all of the events that happen during commencement weekend. She noted that FM staff contribution is part of a ‘team atmosphere.” She noted that sometimes FM staff offer good suggestions on ways to improve the whole experience. Lisa noted, “We always do a little tweaking, but after 18 years, we have this event fine-tuned.”

Fittingly, the campus always looks its best on the day of commencement with freshly-painted railings, power-washed hardscapes, commencement banners hung, fresh mulch spread, and colorful plants installed. On commencement weekend, we face other challenges such as ensuring zero waste and recycling for all of the events, parking, shuttle bus usage, and clean up challenges throughout the weekend.

In the end, all of the hard work pays off as our efforts result in more than 3000 new alumni enjoying one of the most momentous occasions in their lives. It is our goal to see that the positive memories of this important day will help to make the new alumni speak well of their time at AU and encourage them to help promote AU to future students.

Summer Construction & Facilities Projects

By: Michelle Clark

New Projects

Bender Mezzanine Bleachers – New bleachers to be installed in August.
Project Manager: Jennifer Richardson, 202-885-1056,

MGC Elevators – Cars and equipment will be refurbished from fall 2016 to spring 2017.
Project Manager: Tony Cortez, 202-420-9267.

Bender Library Elevators - Cars and equipment will be refurbished from fall 2016 to spring 2017.
Project Manager: Tony Cortez., 202-420-9267.

Labyrinth – Spiral walking path in front of Kay Spiritual is estimated to be completed in fall 2016.
Project Manager: Mark Feist, 202-885-2348,

Beeghly 316 – Renovation will take place in mid-July.
Project Manager: Jennifer Richardson, 202-885-1056,

Sports Center Lockers – New lockers will be installed in August.
Project Manager: Darrick Adkins, 202-885-23735,

Project Updates

East Campus – In Progress

Spring Valley Building – Move-in scheduled for end of July

Butler 203 AU Club – Project Continuing

Katzen Dance Floor Replacement – In Progress

Kay Spiritual HVAC Replacement - Ongoing

Completed Projects

Bender Arena Mezzanine Floor

Anderson Elevator Controls Replacement

Katzen Elevator #1 Jack Replacement

Cassell Hall Landscape Improvements

Awards & Recognitions

By: Georgia Sideris

Facilities Volleyball Team


Facilities Placed 2nd in Staff Appreciation Volleyball Tournament!

Welcome New Staff!

Frans Adamovich – Recycling Services Associate
Steve Drew – Assistant Director, Facilities Operations
Douglas Henley – Shuttle Operator
Manuel Orellana – Facilities Maintenance Technician
Trung Tran – Operating Engineer 3rd Class
Dalton Wijegooneratne – Facilities Maintenance Technician


Awards & Promotions:

Stephanie J. DeStefano – Customer Support Staff Performance Award
Doug Fairley – Completed with Distinction the 21st Century Leadership Institute
Carlos Rugamas – Received his 6th Class Engineer License
Sunil Thaivalappil – Promoted From 3rd Class Engineer to a First Class Engineer

5 Years of Service at AU:

Everett Buchanan
Dagnachew T. Desta
Vincent J. Harkins
Eric D. Osborne

10 Years of Service at AU:

Kefale Bekele
Marcos A. Candia
Wendy Cunningham
Julio Florez
Sheila Lana Fortune
Tomas Najrros Najarro Martinez
Lisa M. Mizell
Eric Eugene Perry
Juan N. Reyez
Marc-Lou M. Rillera
Julio Cesar Veloz

15 Years of Service at AU:

Ann Michelle Frederick
Stephen L. Kriesten
James P. Morgan
Vishnu M. Ramphal
Derrick L. Souder
Anthony Edward Williams

Leaving AU:

Helen Lee - Waste Coordinator