St. Olaf College Facilities Department


Pete Sandberg

Elaine Trnka
Margaret Wolf

Bill Nelson

Kevin Larson

Gregg Menning

Steve Rasmussen

Jim Fisher

David Leake

The St. Olaf facilities department is charged with providing and maintaining a high quality, clean and safe environment that supports and enhances the residential liberal arts college experience.

The department office is located in the Heating Plant on the second level. The office is staffed from7:00 AM to Noon, and again from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. The office phone number is 646-3280. We are served by a voice mail system, and problems can be reported via voice mail at any hour of the day.

On campus calls DO NOT switch to voice mail if the line is busy. Please use the call-back feature of the campus phone system if the line should be busy. If you are calling from off campus, voice mail takes over if the line is busy. If we are not in the office, voice mail takes over after four rings, please be patient.

Facilities Homepage | BACK


If an emergency problem comes up during the business day, call in to 3280. Again, on campus call DO NOT switch to voice mail if this line is busy. If the line is busy, please call 3281. This number is answered twenty four hours a day in the heating plant. PLEASE, DO NOT USE THIS NUMBER FRIVOLOUSLY. The shift engineer must leave boiler operating duties in order to receive the call and dispatch the proper person to attend to the problem.



Routine maintenance problems can be called in to the 3280 number at any time. During business hours our staff will receive your call and log the problem into our work order system. It will be assigned to a specific worker at that time, and most often will be reviewed by the person within an hour or two. After business hours you are welcome to explain the problem on the voice mail system, and it will be logged into the work order system as soon as the office staff have an opportunity to poll the message system.

Please be prepared to clearly explain the problem and where it is located, with a building name and room number or reference point. Let us know the time of the report, who you are, and how you can be reached, especially if you are leaving a voice mail message. If the problem is with a piece of department equipment, or is in some other way not routine building maintenance, please be ready with an account number which will pay for the work.



When you call in or e-mail your request, the office staff will log it into our work order database. The date and exact time of the entry are filled in automatically by the program. This can be helpful for us and the caller if there is a problem later on. Our office assigns each work order to a shop and specific worker when it is entered into the system. In most cases, the worker will see each order within an hour or two of the time it is generated. Our staff is in contact with the office by two way radio, and emergenciy problems will be dealt with immediately.

When the work is complete, the order is returned to the office with the completion date noted. The office staff will then update the database so that we can track what was done and when.

Our program allows us to search for anything on the form. This capability also helps us to evaluate the work load for any given shop. We can call for a report which will give us the total number of unresolved work orders by shop and decide if we need to get more help, or if it is possible for a group with a light load to take over part of someone else's assignment.



The assistant director of facilities, engineering services is responsible for all utility issues. The assistant director manages the heating plant, mechanical maintenance and electric shop, the water system and the electrical systems.

The mechanical maintenance group is responsible for all plumbing, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning equipment and controls. We also have licensed electricians, and do repair and maintenance as well as new installations. It is our intent that most of this group's time be dedicated to maintenance, however, we can take on larger project work when the load allows. In most cases larger projects will be handled by contractors under the direction of the assistant director.

Each building has a mechanic and an electrician assigned to it. Work orders for each building go directly to the person responsible for it. We believe that this facilitates the process by eliminating several steps in the office. Each person is able to become more familiar with conditions in the buildings, and develop a real sense of ownership working in this system.

While the mechanics are generally in charge of the same types of things within their buildings, each has an area that they specialize in. They rely on each other for help when they need another person's expertise. We have master plumbers, welders, temperature control specialists and refrigeration experts available.

The heating plant provides heat to the entire campus. High pressure steam is generated and moved through the tunnel system to the buildings. Because we produce steam at 150 PSI, we have must have engineers on duty twenty four hours a day, year round. The plant is in the charge of a chief engineer who is responsible for all aspects of the production of steam and the maintenance of the equipment and distribution system.

The high pressure steam is reduced at the entrance to each building, and the steam is used in a variety of ways to provide heat. In some of the buildings, steam goes through a "converter", which heats water. The water is then pumped through the building to individual radiators. In this case, the water temperature is set in proportion to the outdoor air temperature. If it is very cold outside, the water may be 190 degrees f. If it is forty degrees f. outside, the water may be 140 degrees f. In almost every case, each space will also have some type of thermostatic control.

In older buildings, low-pressure steam goes directly to the radiation. Steam is also used extensively in the food service, and for sterilization in the sciences. In the bigger buildings, another converter provides hot domestic water.

Chilled water for air conditioning is also produced at the plant and piped throughout the campus. The air conditioned buildings have their own chilled water pumps which move the chilled water to individual units or central air handling units.

These central facilities are much more efficient than a system of distributed boilers and smaller chillers. We are able to produce steam and chilled water with a smaller staff, and fewer machines to maintain.

While we are not presently generating electricity on campus, all of the electricity we use comes in through the central plant. It is sent out to the buildings through a series of tunnels, and transformed to the proper voltage at each building.

Problems involving electricity, heating, cooling or ventilating should be reported to 3280.


Building Services

The assistant director of facilities, building services is responsible for the buildings as structures, and the custodial operation.

The building services area includes all general construction, renovation and building maintenance. The assistant director has a full Shop, including carpenter, a furniture/cabinet maker, a tuckpointer, a locksmith, and painters. Each of these persons has an area of special expertise, and they call on each other as needed. Again, most of our shop time must be spent on building maintenance. Occasionally the college shop is able to take on larger projects, but this is at the discretion of the assistant director and the shop foreman. Most larger projects will be handled by contractors selected by the assistant director, and under the assistant director's direction.

Repair items for this shop should also be called in to 3280. The work request will be logged into the work order database, and will be assigned immediately to the individual responsible for the building. Each work order will be reviewed the same day it is called in.

The assistant director is responsible for the custodial operation in all St. Olaf buildings. The custodial supervisors and a purchasing person report to the assistant director, and manage the operation directly. The custodial purchasing agent is responsible for purchasing and warehousing all custodial supplies and equipment. The supervisors manage the staff and custodial operations in all of the campus buildings. One of these persons is responsible for the residences and the other is responsible for the academic and administrative buildings. Problems with any aspect of the custodial operation can be called in to the custodial supervisors at 3463, or the assistant director at 3612.

The assistant director is also the college representative on all construction and renovation projects.


Grounds Department

The grounds crew is the group first known on the St. Olaf campus as the "green army". This group is responsible for a wide range of activities, mostly out of doors. However, they are also the college moving crew. This is the group that will move your equipment from office to office or across campus if you should be moved. We have staff that specialize in trees, planting beds, other types of landscape construction and equipment maintenance. We also send a grounds person and truck into the Twin Cities one day each week to pick up materials for our, and other, operations. Pickups can be arranged by calling 3280. Problems related to any aspect of the grounds should also be called into 3280. We have radio contact with the supervisor, and most problems can be dealt with very quickly.

The grounds operation has changed as much as any of the other shops over the years because we have built so much. New plantings, sidewalks, roads and drives, and of course, outdoor stairways have expanded greatly. All of this has added up to a lot more work for a crew which has remained stable in size for many years.

We have been able to keep pace with the requirements by adding equipment which allows the crew to be more efficient. This crew is presently mowing over two hundred and twenty five acres. At one time, part of the crew was assigned to indoor work during the winter. Because of the increase in outdoor hard surfaces which must be kept safe during the winter, the staff is no longer reassigned.


Environmental Health and Safety

The coordinator of environmental health and safety reports directly to director of facilities. This position is responsible for keeping the college in compliance with the myriad of safety and environmental regulations which have been promulgated by state and federal governments. Generally, this person is responsible for all relations with OSHA, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency. Many of the federal programs are administered locally by state agencies.

If you should have any questions regarding environmental health and safety issues in your building, department, the grounds or some other situation, please contact the coordinator at 3592.

There is a unique twist to this position, as the coordinator also provides these services to Shattuck/Saint Mary's in Faribault and Carleton College. Because the coordinator may be at one of the other campuses, the voice mail in the E. H. & S. office does take over anytime, busy line or not. We do not handle this person's calls through our central office because we want the community to feel comfortable approaching the coordinator with problems.

The coordinator is responsible for a wide variety of programs on our campus such as: confined spaces, worker right-to-know training, asbestos issues, hazardous waste disposal and tracking, blood borne pathogens, lock out/tag out, fire safety training and so on.



One of the most frequently asked questions at St. Olaf is, "Will my department be charged for this?" Like many other things at St. Olaf, the answer is not always clear. Our basic position is that the repair and maintenance accounts assigned to each building are generally there in order to protect the asset. These accounts are for the maintenance of the building structure and it's systems so that they can provide a safe and comfortable home for your program. Almost any problem that is not related to the building as shelter and environment must be charged against some other source of funding.

Like most rules, there are probably more exceptions than not. However, if your lock is broken, window won't open, shade has fallen down and etc., please call it in. It is clear that these are building repair and/or maintenance problems. If your department decides to request new black- out shades to enhance video presentations, we feel that is a program related change and will try to find alternative funding. If you are a scientist, and need to get a new electron microscope installed, we will need to charge that type of project against a department or special project budget. If you have questions regarding any of these issues please check with us ahead of time so that we can head off problems before they develop.


Grant Related Projects

Grant related projects should be reviewed by our office BEFORE application is made. This review may help avoid painful problems trying to pay for construction and utilities after the equipment is on site. Many grants allow a component for facilities issues, but most often this must be included with the initial application. If your grant does do not address facility needs, the college needs to know what expenses it is obligated to in order to get the project completed.


Academic Facility Projects

The process for these types of projects has changed several times over the past few years, and with the organization of the academic division into faculties, it has become even less clear than it was. If you have a project and are not sure if it should be a maintenance issue, please check with us. If it is work that does require funding from another source, we can prepare estimates so that your department chair can evaluate the request and probable cost. The chair would then discuss it with the associate dean of your faculty. Some of these projects will eventually become part of the capital budget, and capital projects within the academic division are prioitized for funding by the dean's council.

We need the name of the department, the contact person's name, the location of the proposed work, and a brief description of the work. If there is equipment involved we will need technical specifications as soon as possible so that all of the utility implications are in up front.


Larger Academic Projects

A dramatic change in your program triggered by a fundamental change in the curriculum might require lots of new and different kinds of spaces. This type of need would be initially considered by the college's director of facilities and the associate dean for academic resources. They are responsible for a long range facilities planning document that has been prepared in order to help the college plan and prioritize its larger facility requirements. The plan is updated frequently, and your need may be included in updated plans after they are reviewed. They may also decide that a particular project might belong in some other que for funding, and redirect the request.