Facilities Services work to keep Trinity’s campus up-to-date

14.4 million dollar improvements for campus residences planned for summer


Andrew Duong

Construction outside of Murchison

Facilities Services work on a number of projects to keep campus running smoothly. From the current projects regarding greenery and irrigation systems at City Vista to future plans of refurbishing Camille Lightner Hall and Bruce Thomas Hall, Facilities Services makes sure that students, faculty and staff can appreciate campus life.

Earlier this school year, Facilities Services had their hands full with the surprise pipe project down by Murchison Hall. The pipes were fixed in two distinct phases, as they distribute hot and cold water differently. Facilities completed the hot water portion in the summer of 2022, but when it came time for the cold water portion, those working did not anticipate the high temperatures of San Antonio during the winter break.

Despite this minor hiccup, Jim Baker, senior director of Facilities Services, and his department were able to get the job done, ensuring that all students could have hot showers and air conditioning when desired. In his position at the department’s helm, he has focused on fixing City Vista’s irrigation issues.

“The City Vista landscape irrigation system did not pass my inspection, so we turned it off. If you’ve seen contractors over there ripping out all of the dead plants, it’s because we turned the water off. We’re in the process of restoring that,” Baker said.

Given the shortcomings of the irrigation system, Baker and his team are currently addressing the plants that need to be restored and replaced for the coming seasons. Based on their past experiences with San Antonio winters, the last five years have been about finding what foliage works best for the changing climate in the area. This understanding has allowed them to begin purchasing plants that will last for years.

As this project continues, Facilities Services continues to address all service requests while also turning their attention to the significant improvements scheduled for the 11-week summer following this semester. Thomas and Lightner will get new furnishings, upgrades and more thanks to an allotted $14.4 million.

Facilities Services will replace the Douglas fir furniture in buildings because they began to produce an unpleasant odor. New campus-standard dressers, desks and shelving will be installed soon. Thomas and Lightner currently include air conditioning systems from the early 2000s that do not come with dehumidification. Fan and coil units will be added to every room to maintain a comfortable temperature. Another change will be in the showers of these dorms. Facilities will restructure the changing space in each shower, taking it out and doubling the shower size while also installing glass doors.

Improvements are also to be made to the lighting of the hallways and the flooring of the buildings. The hallways will have new lighting and motion sensors to create more welcoming corridors. Thomas and Lightner will soon be free of all carpets, which will be replaced by Luxury Vinyl Tile, which follows the format of other residence halls such as Robert R. Witt – Carlton R. Winn Hall. With this change, Calvert and C.W. Miller Hall will have the last remaining carpeted dorm areas, which Facilities hopes to address as soon as possible.

“In the residence hall scenario, [residents] are guests, you’re only there for nine months. Occupant, guest, student, customer. With hard surface flooring, it’s a faster process to clean and sanitize those to be ready for the next guest,” Baker said.

As a first-year and resident of Verna McLean Hall, JT Jones, an intended biology major on the pre-med track, has experienced little to no issues with his time living on campus.

“[The facilities have] been good. The only thing that got redone was [a water issue] before Christmas, the water wouldn’t heat up too hot, so the whole hallway had to be fixed,” Jones said.

Jones’ water issues were fixed quickly, allowing him and other McLean residents to continue enjoying their time there. Baker and his coworkers aim to fix every problem at first encounter. As a part of their work for the school, they see any repeated issue as a red flag and prioritize solving the issue immediately. Student satisfaction remains at the forefront of their entire mission.

“[Residents] are our customer. You’re our students, but for us, you’re still our customer. … We want to make sure you’re comfortable, that you’re content, that you’re in a learning environment that is conducive to learning. That’s why we’re here,” Baker said.