Catawba College residential students can check on the status of their dirty laundry without ever leaving their rooms. That, thanks to a new Laundry View software program recently installed on the College's computer network.
But the impetus behind that new software comes from an unlikely source – not Student Affairs or Computer Services, but rather the College Facilities Department. As that department was searching for ways to both improve downtime and repair time to the washers and dryers available to students in the residence hall, Laundry View came into the picture. It seemed a small upgrade in amenities at first glance, but to the students, it has been a huge improvement, according to Catawba's Director of Facilities Henry Haywood.
"We had contracted with a company to install new energy-efficient washers and dryers in our residence halls," Haywood said. "The savings we realized by doing so allowed us to afford the cost of Laundry View. This system alleviates the need for students to hang out in the laundry room waiting for their clothes to finish a cycle. They can stay in their rooms and check the status of washers and dryers anywhere on campus via their computers. And, the system has allowed a better response time for repairing downed machines by electronically informing the repair folks of problems."
The impact of other projects tackled by the Catawba Facilities Department has been felt across campus. Improvements have been completed at Frock Fields, a complex of fields containing areas for softball, soccer competition and practice, field hockey, lacrosse, and football practice.
Located in a flood plain, Frock Fields had inadequate drainage from its inception, Haywood said. Runoff water from uphill combined with a high water table often made the fields to soggy for use. The Facilities Department got an architect and the City of Salisbury involved and came up with a plan to use catch basins and large underground concrete drainage pipe to drain off ground water. A heavy equipment operator was brought in to properly crown the area and rope fencing and posts were installed to keep people from driving out onto the fields. While the improvements won't take care of flooding which will occur naturally in this area, Haywood said, they have increased the usability of the area. And, he noted, the rope fencing used around the fields was actually recycled using rigging removed from the stage area of the Robertson College-Community Center.
Prior to opening convocation for this academic year, some major improvements were made to Catawba's Omwake-Dearborn Chapel which directly impacted visitors there.
Air-conditioning was finally installed at the facility, which was opened and dedicated in February of 1964. And, new custom-made pew cushions were added, again thanks to funds provided by Jacquie Leonard.
A gift from Trustee Emeritus and 1938 Alumnus Enoch Goodman of Salisbury is now being used to rewire and re-circuit the interior lights of the Chapel and to backlight its rose stained glass window.
When funds become available, Haywood said, plans are to renovate the study rooms on the lower level of the Chapel. Purchase of a new Steinway grand piano for the Chapel was also recently completed, thanks to a gift from Jacquie Leonard of Lexington made to Catawba in memory of her late husband, Theodore, who served as Catawba's 17th President.
Robertson College-Community Center
Unless you were performing in the Robertson-College-Community Center you might never be aware of some of the upgrades which have been made there, according to Haywood. Dressing rooms have been gutted and refurbished and flooring on both of the stages is on order and will be installed over the Christmas holidays. The composite material flooring will overlay the original and strengthen it. Gifts from the Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation, the Proctor Foundation, and Jacquie Leonard of Lexington funded these projects.
In the kitchen area of the Community Center, some upgrades are also underway thanks to a gift from Catawba College Alumni William "Bill" and Shari Graham '83 of Salisbury. A new sink, new cabinet doors, new hot boxes, a steam unit, a convection microwave, and new stainless steel tables are being installed. These upgrades will enhance the ability of caterers to serve hot meals from this kitchen area.
Haywood explained that many projects which would once have been outsourced are now being completed by in-house Facilities personnel, including the new Kinesiology Lab located on the lower level of the Abernethy Physical Education Center. This ability to complete projects in-house allows for substantial savings, Haywood said, and is a testament to the caliber of the Facilities employees.
"Our employees are not just repairmen, they're craftsmen who keep up with codes and standards and are staying abreast of new technology used in building projects," Haywood commented.
The new kinesiology lab, funded thanks to a gift from Catawba College Alumnus Gene Fuller '52 of Charlotte, will provide a training facility for athletic training majors, the students who actually serve as trainers for Catawba's 17 NCAA Division II athletic teams. The lab will allow students to practice first hand concepts which are taught in kinesiology and exercise physiology. Students will be able to participate in VO2 max (maximum capacity of oxygen intake) tests, anaerobic strength tests, and muscle endurance tests just to name a few. The lab will be equipped with a treadmill, bicycle ergometer, VO2 system, heart rate monitors, and various other assessment equipment.
Fuller's gift also purchased new desks and chairs used in various classrooms in the Abernethy Physical Education Center.
Simple things often make a world of difference, especially to Catawba's customers, the students, Haywood said. So one of his department's goals has been to open the lines of communications with those customers. "We want them to call us before they call their parents," he noted.
In Woodson and Abernethy residence halls, some water leaks from fourth floor shower stalls into third floor ceilings were repaired, new carpet installed, walls repainted and extra laundry facilities were added on the third and fourth floor.
Duct work in Stanback was cleaned and new high-velocity ventilator fans were installed on its roof to exhaust humidity from the restrooms. On the residence hall's exterior, a new water-proof ceiling was installed and sealer was applied to the building so water would run off of the bricks instead of soaking into them.
Students immediately noticed the difference, Haywood said, and these projects too were completed by in-house facilities staffers.
Keeping Tabs on Campus Utility Expenses
The Facilities Department is also focusing on ways to contain utility expenses and even curb them. New pressure-reducing valves were installed in the Abernethy Gymnasium and the Cannon Student Center which reduced the pressure in both buildings from 120-125 psi to 60 psi. Dripping faucets across campus are also coming under scrutiny and are being replaced as they are located and reported. "The bottom line is that this saves the institution money," Haywood said. "Therefore, we're looking at all aspects of conservation."
The Department is also monitoring natural gas use and electrical use in various buildings on campus, in some cases even switching to a one-meter electrical system shared by several buildings. Haywood has charged Assistant Director of Facilities and Energy Manager Norman Hodges with the task of monitoring all campus utilities usage.
Working with students from the Environmental Science Department, Facilities has installed on-campus recycling bins across campus and "has gotten real good buy in from the students," Haywood noted. Recycling helps with his department's trash pulls by eliminating extra trips to the dump.
"We're trying to work smarter and capitalize on those areas where we can realize a substantial savings," Haywood said. "That makes us better stewards of our institution's resources and of our environment's resources."