Assistant Vice President of Facilities Operations

Industry: Facilities Management
Location: New Jersey - Princeton
Sector: Higher Education
Search ID: 21-1004-14
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Joseph F. Wargo
Joseph F. Wargo
Matthew D. Lesher
Matthew D. Lesher


Princeton University has retained Helbling to conduct an executive search to secure an Assistant Vice President of Facilities Operations.

Position Summary

The Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Facilities Operations is a leader and strategic partner in the Facilities organization. The AVP provides strategic direction and planning for the stewardship of over 350 buildings with 10+ million gross square feet of space and over 2,600 acres on campus. Facilities Operations has a strong operational focus overseeing Grounds, Building Maintenance, Major Maintenance (renewal construction), Civil & Environmental Engineering (site work & underground utilities), Site Protection (life safety & security systems), and Building Services (custodial).  Operations responds to an average of 60,000 service request work orders annually. The AVP provides leadership and strategic vision to strengthen operational planning and improve operational effectiveness and efficiency for all work units within Operations.

For more details about this opportunity, please view the position profile by clicking on the cover image to the left.

The AVP is a member of the Facilities Policy Group, which includes the Vice President, the AVP of Facilities, Finance and Administrative Services, the AVP Capital Projects, and the Director of Organizational Effectiveness and Communications. They work in partnership with other Facilities colleagues in efforts to implement best practices across the organization and effectively leverage available resources.

The AVP represents Facilities on several University committees, task forces, and cross-functional teams, and may be called on to represent the Vice President for Facilities in matters related to the University or community. The AVP supports and often leads efforts with campus partners such as Public Safety, Environmental Health and Safety, Housing, Dining, and others. 

The AVP has nine direct reports with over 600 employees of which half are SEIU members and provides operational management for an annual operating budget of $60M, and an annual Major Maintenance budget of $55M. This position embodies the core values of the Facilities: teamwork, innovation, integrity, inclusiveness, respect, and sustainability. 

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Leadership Management
    Provides vision, direction, focus, guidance, support, prioritization, and strategic oversight for managerial, supervisory, technical, and administrative staff; determines priority of work unit efforts; develops and implements programs, processes, and procedures that result in high levels of individual and organizational performance and effectiveness; proactively takes steps to promote leadership & management team cohesion and performance; handles problems decisively; demonstrates commitment to organizational core values; promotes a culture of safety; develops a positive relationship with peers; navigates ambiguous situations successfully; periodically analyzes organizational structure and makes changes to the organization to meet evolving institutional needs; is responsive to directives from superiors; advocates for the interests of Operations; supports the unit, departmental, and institutional mission and goals; is regularly available to all subordinate employees.
  2. Maintenance, Repair, and Daily Operations
    Ensures resources are in place to respond to daily service request work orders; oversees routine and preventive maintenance and repair programs and processes for all elements of the campus physical plant, to include HVAC/R, electrical systems, carpentry, masonry, painting, elevators, building automation controls, plumbing systems, fire alarm systems, fire suppression systems, regulatory testing for 350 systems annually, roofing repairs, access control, Americans with Disabilities Act projects, environmental compliance for construction projects, soil recycling, custodial operations, grounds care, forest management, plant nursery operations, surplus property operations, moving and storage program, solid waste and recycling collections; data center critical infrastructure support, event support (large- and small-scale); oversees the 24/7/365 emergency maintenance response crews.
  3. Stewardship of Campus Assets
    Oversees Major Maintenance program, to include roofing replacements, waterproofing repairs, masonry repairs, window replacements, elevator refurbishments, underground utilities, renewal of roads/lots/walks; develops policy for, and makes funding decisions for, the major maintenance program; applies experience and technical knowledge about maintenance and construction techniques to daily decision making; oversees all work in progress; supports the capital construction program; provides periodic campus-wide facilities condition assessments and ensures data gathered is useable for strategic planning.
  4. Committee Participation
    Participates on various campus committees to include Life Safety and Security Committee (and Steering Committee), Health, Safety and Accessibility Committee (and Steering Committee), Facilities Planning Group, Facilities Policy Group, Environmental Safety and Risk Management Committee, Weather Advisory Group.
  5. Business Administration
    Envisions and develops work practices and processes that result in accurate and timely tracking of work requests, preventive maintenance efforts, labor and material costs; analyzes periodic reports detailing performance of the business unit; oversees unit purchasing and accounting functions; reviews and approves select financial transactions; ensures staffing levels are appropriate; oversees contracted transactions with vendors, contractors, and architectural/engineering firms; oversees fleet garage operations and vehicle replacement program for approximately 300 vehicles and rolling equipment.
  6. Relationship with Campus Partners
    Proactively connects with campus peers and partners for the purpose of ensuring positive lines of communication, cooperation, and coordination of activities; encourages the expression of concerns about services from Facilities; adapts organization as needed to ensure a high level of service delivery to the campus.
  7. Technical Support and Guidance
    Oversees the unit’s technical review of capital construction and major maintenance projects to ensure proper design reviews, quality assurance, system commissioning, project handoff, and warranty administration; provides supervisors and managers with technical support and guidance relative to various building systems and equipment; oversees utilization of the computerized maintenance-management system for about 400 users.
  8. Personnel Function
    Provides professional training and development of employees; holds subordinates accountable for effectiveness, efficiency, and professional conduct; conducts effective searches by recruiting, hiring, training, evaluating, and motivating employees; participates in the administration of progressive discipline as needed; ensures good performance is rewarded; fosters an environment where all employees feel valued; promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion in all work units and decisions.
  9. Budget Management
    Oversees operating budgets; oversees Major Maintenance budgets and construction project details; ensures funds are spent in accordance with University policy; ensures operating and project budgets do not overspend without justification and approvals.
  10. Communication
    Explains operational and strategic plans and other initiatives to staff; communicates in an open, transparent, and clear manner; gives formal presentations.
  11. Implementation of Technology
    Drives the utilization of technology to the work unit, such as computerized maintenance-management systems (CMMS), mobile platform work order systems, building automation systems (BAS), construction project tracking, fleet management systems, computer-aided design systems (CAD).

About Princeton University

Princeton University is a private, Ivy League research University set on a 600-acre suburban campus in Princeton, NJ. Princeton was ranked #1 for Best National Universities in the 2021 edition of Best Colleges | U.S. News & World Report. The University is home to world-class research facilities that are available to researchers across disciplines and departments. Princeton University is classified as "R1: Research Universities (Highest research activity)" in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.  Having the strengths of a major research university with the qualities of an outstanding liberal arts college makes Princeton University truly exceptional.


Located in Princeton, NJ.

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Minimum Qualifications

  • Education/Experience – Bachelor’s degree in business, engineering, architecture, or construction management; minimum of 12 years of progressively responsible positions in a large commercial or institutional facilities management setting with at least 7 years’ experience in a leadership role

  • Specific Knowledge – Strong knowledge of facilities systems, including electrical, carpentry, air-conditioning, heating, ventilation, commercial refrigeration, plumbing, water treatment, direct-digital temperature control systems, chillers, boilers, energy management, fan systems, pumping systems, commercial kitchen equipment; fire alarm systems, fire suppression systems, locks and keys, electronic access systems; strong knowledge of commercial construction methods, practices and techniques; strong knowledge of construction project management

  • Knowledge of Maintenance Function – Thorough knowledge of methods associated with maintenance, repair, and operation of all building systems noted above; thorough knowledge of building and fire code regulations; knowledge of safe work practices

  • Technical Understanding – Ability to read, interpret, and understand construction documents, product specifications, sequences of operation, control drawings, and other technical data

  • Communication Skills – Strong ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, and give formal presentations, to a diverse audience

  • Customer Service Skills – Understanding of modern customer service theories, practices, and methods, and how to apply them

  • Managerial and Administrative Complexity – Ability to prepare, analyze, and manage complex operating and construction project budgets; ability to successfully handle multiple tasks at once, and be able to determine appropriate priorities; must be able to make independent interpretations and make appropriate decisions that are in the best interest of the organization and that are consistent with the objectives of senior administration; must be experienced working in a shared-governance setting where collaboration, stakeholder engagement, and relationship management are important skills

  • Computer Skills – Must be proficient in the use of business application software; must be experienced in the use of a computerized maintenance-management software program; must be experienced in using direct digital control building automation systems

  • Managing Diverse Workforce – Ability to lead, advocate for, and motivate a diverse workforce

  • Driver’s License – Must have a valid driver’s license

Preferred Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in business or closely related discipline

  • Prior experience in a higher education setting having a residential campus

Princeton University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.
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