When you are managing an 84-acre campus on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, there is no shortage of work to keep the place looking its best. With spaces in use throughout the year, the window of opportunity for renovation and maintenance, time when classroom and living spaces are relatively quiet and weather is cooperative, is incredibly small. For the Brewster Operations departments, the summer season is that window. In the weeks since last May when students departed, this team has undertaken a slew of projects that have extended the life of some of our most cherished spaces, improved the residential experience for students and faculty, and moved Brewster closer to realizing its vision for a campus whose beauty mirrors that of our stunning natural setting.
The work they have produced is especially remarkable when considering that these teams are also tasked with supporting Brewster's full calendar of summer programs. Brewster’s Chief Operations Officer Peter Gilligan shares an analogy. “I always equate it to changing the tires while we are still driving down the road. We are accomplishing these large projects and also keeping a full summer program running with field care, support, and housekeeping.” What follows is a glimpse into what was achieved this season by the dedicated team charged with stewarding our campus spaces.
The Academic Building Gets the Spa Treatment
No building on campus is more iconic than the Academic Building. Featured prominently on our emblem, it is the historic centerpiece of campus, and the hub of much of Brewster’s programmatic and administrative work. Over the summer this important building has benefitted from a number of interior and exterior updates aimed at brightening its appearance and improving the way people work within it. When you return, you may notice a new glow about the old Ac, as the entirety of the exterior was pressure washed with an acid solution designed to remove years of grimy build up on the stone surfaces. This brightening effect has been complimented by the new plantings and landscaping in front of the entrance. Necessary repairs have also been undertaken, updating masonry, replacing stone overhangs on the sides of the building, and returning the lake side Wheeler Terrace to its original glory by realigning granite steps that were sinking into the ground. Inside, the Brewster facilities team has renovated the College Office, changing the layout of the space to accommodate a third office and more room for student counseling and consultation. And while the new furniture in the Rogers may appropriately generate enthusiasm, students taking chemistry in the Ac will surely be wowed by the total replacement of old classroom furniture, with new desks and chairs ready for use at the start of the year.
Focus on Faculty Housing
The Ops Team also knows how central the faculty experience is to the success of our program. Our campus serves as the home for these committed professionals and their families as they deliver the Brewster Model with care. Summer is a time when faculty receive new housing assignments of their own, and since the end of last school year there have been 20 faculty housing moves, each of which provided an opportunity for the facilities team to repaint walls, repair damage, and replace outdated appliances in each of these spaces. Some of this work was more involved, with multiple major renovations of existing housing and even a conversion of a former administrative office area into a new faculty apartment.
Caring for the Campus
In addition to the focus on the Ac and Faculty housing, keeping up with the regular maintenance of Brewster’s 38 buildings and community spaces is an enormous annual undertaking. As an example, half of all of the buildings receive a pressure wash every year! This summer that regular work also included more involved maintenance, work that improved efficiencies, updated safety infrastructure, and added a few fun touches. New HVAC systems were installed in multiple dorms and classroom buildings, something that will surely be appreciated around mid January! Roof replacements on the Health Center and Climbing Barn and a complete replacement of alarm sensors in Sargent dormitory were large projects with a big impact on safety. Work on storm water drainage in front of dorms will help eliminate damage from pooling that can occur in rainy times. And with recognition that even the recreational touches on campus could use a facelift from time to time, new backboards were installed on Brewster’s outdoor hoops. The maintenance lens extended to IT as well, where the Technology department spent much of the summer upgrading servers and wireless access points throughout campus and fine tuning our Veracross system, feats made more impressive when noting that these upgrades were delivered while keeping all existing systems operational. The result will be better connectivity and more efficient access to the internet for all, a major boon for program and campus life.
A Master Plan in Motion
In order to activate the full potential of our special location, Brewster has undertaken a campus planning effort designed to shape our campus in a way that fully engages the natural setting. In addition to capital building projects like the Reimagined Rogers, the plan includes initiatives which target the overall layout and feel of campus. Gilligan expands on this saying, “the overarching vision for the campus is to have open green spaces where we use our landscape to open up views to the lake. We want to eliminate as many areas where pedestrian and automobile travel overlap so people can freely walk through campus to enjoy our amazing setting.” Steps towards this vision were taken this summer, with the removal of the asphalt driveway in front of the Art Cottage, adding a lawn, and eliminating a vehicle cut-through. Green Street will become an apt name for the former home of our facilities building: The site is now loamed and seeded and will provide a sunny open grassy spot for the students of South Campus. And rock walls around campus have also received attention, with some of these granite boundaries being rebuilt and restored. These signature features of the New Hampshire landscape provide distinct character and class to campus, a visual representation of Brewster’s place in local history and our relationship with Wolfeboro.
With Gratitude for the Operations Department
For Gilligan, this work is about impact. “My hope is that students, employees, and the public feel safe at Brewster and that the projects we do help them in their lives. I want people to walk across campus and really see the impact.” That impact is a testament to the efforts of an important, and often unsung group of professionals who make up Brewster's Operations Department.
“What makes me the proudest is the dedication and pride that everyone in the Housekeeping, Technology, Facilities, and Security departments have for their work,” Gilligan says. “When you see the full scope of the projects and tasks they are able to accomplish it doesn't seem possible. Even with that heavy workload, they are always kind and happy to help with whatever people need. I would like to thank everyone in the Operations departments for the work that they do.”
That note of gratitude offers us all an invitation to share our thanks with these team members when we see them on campus. The result of their labors this summer is unquestionably impressive.
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