Greg Wiens is a professional engineer and Director, Facilities and Services, for Athabasca University. He spent 12 years at the University of Alberta before joining AU in April of 2001, and works from AU Central in Athabasca.
When asked what his position entails, Wiens explains that on a day-to-day basis it involves ?the management and leadership of those people, whether on staff or provided under contract, who ensure that the buildings, site and associated infrastructure are kept operating and in good condition to support all the staff, students and visitors who attend our campus, whether in person or via electronic means. This is by no means limited to only those buildings located in Athabasca but also includes properties in Calgary, Edmonton, and St. Albert. Integral to this is energy management, sustainability, and all aspects of responsible management and application of resources.
?This probably sounds somewhat more glamorous than it really is as,? Wiens continues. It means that Wiens supervises and coordinates ?everyday? details on campus: ?that the lights work when you hit the switch, you have a properly set up work area, the roof doesn’t leak, the heating (or AC in the summer) works properly or, as basic as it gets, there is toilet paper there when you need it.
?Ensuring that resources, including the right people, are in place, all the support infrastructure and buildings work properly and all the expected workplace amenities are in place means that all the AU staff supporting the students can do their jobs seamlessly and without concern for the day-to-day issues of buildings, site and infrastructure.?
As the Director of Facilities and Services, a ?large part? of Wiens’s position is ?focused on obtaining the needed resources for my staff so that they can focus on doing the task(s) at hand as effectively as possible.?
Another key part of Wiens’s job is ?planning for the future,? both by ?keeping what AU has running? and by ?expanding (adding facilities, staff or equipment) to provide continuous support of the universities mission and goals.?
Like many at AU, Wiens is unsure ?if there is such a thing as an average day,? but his schedule often entails plenty of time spent in the office. ?My day usually starts at about 7:30 a.m. and ends when I leave for home, usually around 6:00 p.m.,? Wiens says. ?There are some weekend commitments but these are dependent on the needs of the tasks at hand so are not very predictable.?
On arriving at the office, ?one of the very first tasks is to respond to any emails or voice mails received . . . These can be requests for assistance, requests for information, reminders of the various reports that are required on a regular basis and, in some cases, concerns or complaints that need to be addressed.?
?Always part of my day is to touch bases with my staff. This keeps me current on the various tasks they have underway, lets me know where they may be needing some support or assistance, and helps to keep us on the same page so the team is pulling in the same direction. This also provides them the opportunity to provide me feedback so I can focus my efforts to provide them the support they need to do their job.?
One project currently on Wiens’s platter is the ?decanting of the Science Lab, in preparation for a major renovation,? a project that is now ?almost completed. There are a few final issues for IT connectivity and furniture logistics but this remains on schedule for completion by this Friday.? He recently ?met with the skylight contractor to review and approve access and scaffold relocation for access to the next two phases of the project.?
?When you complete a task, report or project, and the customer likes the final product, there is not much that is more rewarding than that!? Wiens says. One such recent highlight was the completion of the new front circulation area in the AU library. ?Yes, it is a very good job, on time and on budget and with very nice aesthetics but, most importantly, the space functions very well and the library staff really like this rebuilt and reconfigured space. That makes all the time and effort most rewarding.?
Wiens ?really enjoys the rural setting in Athabasca. Fishing, boating, hunting, snowmobiling are all outdoor [activities] in which I find rest and relaxation. I also enjoy backyard mechanics and have a vintage 1969 muscle car that needs plenty of TLC. There are always plenty of around-the-house tasks and having to use power tools to get these done is always fun. Usually noisy and dusty too!?
Athabasca is also the setting for what Wiens calls the ?single biggest point of contact? with students: convocation. ?This is AU’s premiere event, when the most students are on campus, and it is to celebrate their achievements. Speaking for all of Facilities and Services, including myself, it is the one day when we all see that our efforts were worth it. The smiles on the graduands? faces, the pride evident amongst their family and friends proves to us that what we do matters.?
?I have utmost respect for all those students who take courses through AU and, most especially, for those who graduate. The level of dedication and self-discipline required to study and learn at home is something that not everyone can do,? says Wiens. ?It is seeing students graduating at convocation that brings everything I do into perspective and makes it worthwhile. Many thanks to all of AU’s students, past, present and future.?