Reaching Out to Maintenance

Out of Order Light Pole

PHOTO | Tara Espinoza

Maintenance work is a standard part of operating any institution, especially with college campuses like Arkansas Tech. The department responsible for maintaining buildings and repairs across campus, Facilities Management, created an Instagram page in February for students to reach out to them with maintenance requests, part of an ongoing effort to increase the department’s visibility and presence among the student body.

What students may not know about the maintenance process for Tech is that student workers, known as building managers, are the first responders to the standard maintenance work order. These building managers are charged with helping students solve minor maintenance problems, and ensure that their assigned building is doing well at any given time.

Houston Barber, the building manager and former maintenance assistant for the M-Street dormitory, provided some insight into his experience with maintenance work and the performance of Facilities Management.

“We do a lot of miscellaneous tasks; we clean and we take out the trash, replace lightbulbs, unclog toilets or shower drains. Anything a normal person can do, that Facilities Management doesn’t have to, we get called up to do,” Barber said when describing the typical duties of a building manager.

According to Barber, the maintenance process has undergone noticeable changes since he started working in this role just last semester.

“At the beginning of last semester, the Facilities Management department was kinda low-barred, but as the semester progressed they kept going, adding more to how they work on things. It’s much smoother now. We get work orders more efficiently, and we’re able to work more efficiently. I’d say how things are progressing, it’s really good.”

Barber isn’t the only building manager who considers the changes by Facilities Management satisfactory. Zurab Sabakhtarishvili, a building manager for Wilson Hall, echoed the same sentiments shared by Barber.

When asked to describe the living conditions and overall status of Wilson Hall Sabakhtarishvili used one word, “optimal.”

Sabakhtarivili went on to state that “so far this semester, I have not had to report a maintenance issue reported by a resident. I did encounter some issues, but they got fixed,” in regards to any outstanding issues within the dormitory.

Although student workers play a pivotal role in the maintenance process at Tech, sometimes a maintenance request is filed that the student workers simply aren’t equipped to handle on their own. For cases like this, the task of maintenance and repair falls to Facilities Management.

Drew Dickey, director of Facilities Management, provided more information about the various tasks the department usually undertakes and the overall maintenance process.

The department oversees “all maintenance, custodial, and construction” for Arkansas Tech, providing oversight for each of these tasks, according to Dickey. With so many different areas falling under Facilities Management’s purview, it might seem as though some of the work orders could slip through the cracks. According to Dickey, this isn’t the case.

“No, we don’t miss requests. Do we get overloaded with them? Absolutely,” Dickey said.

Despite the fact that the department receives upwards of 7,000 work orders per year and an estimated 150 work orders each week, Facilities Management boasts a completion rate of around 97 percent. This metric was deemed accurate by several different building managers without a direct connection to the Facilities Management department itself.

“That’s a measurable rate of completion, and shows kinda we could do better. All in all, we’re doing pretty well,” Dickey said, in regards to the department’s work order completion rate.

Facilities Management encompasses multiple crews, with each focusing on different areas within the campus such as housing, utilities, grounds and carpentry. Depending on the time of year, each of these crews could be the busiest on campus, according to Dickey.

“Our carpenter crew is probably the busiest, but it depends on the season. If it’s this time of year it’d probably be the HVAC crew. It just depends,” Dickey said.

Dickey encourages students who have requests to reach out to the department, whether through the StarRez portal, via email or through the department’s new social media page. The department can be contacted via email at, or through Instagram at @facilities_atu.