College Adds Facility Management Program To Offerings

Mercyhurst College, with its main campus in Erie, PA, has added a new program in facilities and property management to its curriculum. “Given the critical need for qualified property and facilities management professionals in the region, we think this concentration has great potential,” said Dr. Heidi Hosey, executive vice president of the college’s West campus where the program will be offered. “The focus in our facilities management curriculum on practical skills in a wide range of settings will give our students a real edge in the employment market.”

The associate degree program in facilities and property management at West, along with a bachelor’s degree program at the Erie campus, are the only such programs in the area. Four students are currently enrolled in the program at West, and an Introduction to Facility Management course will be offered during the winter term, which starts Nov. 27.

The facilities and property management program focuses on topics ranging from general cleaning and maintenance work, to ensuring the structural safety and proper operation of buildings. It incorporates diverse fields such as engineering, business, construction and technology. Graduates of this program will be prepared for jobs ranging from maintenance managers to vice presidents of facilities.

“A lot of programs are scaled toward the engineer. Other programs are scaled toward management,” said Larry Kownacki, instructor of the program at West. “We’re trying to hit the middle point.”

Daryl Georger, director of the Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management program at the Erie campus, explained that this growing field is perfect for mechanically-inclined workers who have been laid off from their jobs due to outsourcing. Three of the four students currently enrolled in the program at West are displaced workers.

“So much building is going on in different industries, so the need for people to take care of these properties is also growing,” said Georger. “We felt that this was a natural fit between the demand from the industry and displaced workers trying to get back into the industry.”

A goal in the near future is to have West’s program approved by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), so that upon successful completion the program, students will be able to take the test to become a Facility Management Professional (FMP). This can be used as a springboard for obtaining the Certified Facility Manager (CFM) designation.

“The idea is to offer the students at West the academic training needed so they are able to take that test and get that designation with no problem,” said Kownacki.

Students in the West program will be able to experience facility and properties management firsthand, as the physical plant of West comes to fruition, said Kownacki. “We’re going to have a live lab environment as the campus grows,” he said.

In addition to the new program, West’s future campus will be centered around sustainability, incorporating U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) initiatives into its design, construction, and operation.