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Chief Facilities Officer

  • Industry: Facilities Management
  • Location: Oberlin, Ohio
  • Client: Institution - Higher Education
  • Search ID: 18-1106-10

Oberlin College has retained Helbling to conduct an executive search to secure a Chief Facilities Officer.

Job Summary

The Chief Facilities Officer is a full-time, continuing 12-month Administrative and Professional Staff (A&PS) position, reporting to the Vice President of Finance and Administration. The Chief Facilities Officer will have responsibility for the following units:

  • Facilities Operation, Procurement, and Auxiliary Services serves as the primary resource for all facility related needs and concerns, striving to ensure efficient day-to-day operations of the College campus. The office handles routine, emergency, and preventative maintenance needs of all building systems provides landscaping, snow removal, care of athletic fields, and ground's equipment maintenance. The office supports day-to-day custodial needs, including emergency custodial coverage to the campus community, as well as supports the recycling and sustainability efforts on campus. The office also ensures all buildings are clean and safe, including pest control.
The mission is to provide the Oberlin College community with timely, cost-effective services, clean facilities, and a healthy environment through a commitment to professional customer service on the part of each of our employees. Facilities Operations also assists with special functions on campus and within the community at large. The office collaborates with the efforts of the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) division and coordinates with Facilities Planning and Construction on capital improvement projects around campus.  
Facilities Operations also assists with special functions on campus and within the community at large. The office collaborates and sustains the efforts of the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) division and coordinates with Facilities Planning and Construction on capital improvement projects around campus. The mission is to provide the Oberlin College community with timely, cost-effective services, clean facilities, and a healthy environment through a commitment to professional customer service on the part of each employee.
  • Facilities Planning and Construction (FP&C) is responsible for the planning, design, and construction of facilities on campus, facilitating capital projects from initial concept through construction, hiring and managing various consultants such as architects, engineers, and construction companies, and utilizing a variety of project delivery methods.
FP&C consults with College departments to maintain aesthetic and performance standards including signage, furniture, interior finishes, building codes, and conformance to historic, accessibility, and sustainable practices.
  • The Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) works to facilitate the implementation of the College’s comprehensive environmental policy in line with the College’s strategic goal of sustainability and commitment to carbon neutrality by 2025.

OES interacts with the administration, faculty, staff, and students to focus attention on ways to maximize the environmental performance of Oberlin College and develop the awareness and tools required to respond dynamically to issues affecting them. OES also reaches out to the wider community and provides a connection between Oberlin and regional and national activities. In addition, OES educates and inspires a multidisciplinary way of thinking about the world that incorporates an ethic of environmental care, social equity, and financial responsibility. Through bold leadership, innovation, and creative collaboration, OES works with the administration to advance an environment that is sustainable, equitable, and resilient for our campus, our students, our community, and beyond.

Job Functions

The Chief Facilities Officer will support institutional goals and priorities through stewardship of physical and financial assets and the implementation of sustainable practices. They will ensure the College provides an environment that is aesthetically pleasing, sustainable, establishes a sense of place, and is conducive to the learning process. Our goal is to enhance the teaching, research and service, and co-curricular missions of the College.

  • Enhance student learning outcomes and engage educational experience of students.
  • Maintain collaborative and high-quality relations that create and encourage mutual trust and respect with the various campus offices and the President’s Staff to ensure support to all campus functions through appropriate facilities and core auxiliary services.
  • Responsible for the operations and maintenance of all campus facilities and associated grounds, roadways, and utility systems.
  • Evaluate Facilities Department’s existing policies and procedures, recommending, developing, and implementing solutions to improve efficiency and streamline operations.
  • Continuously seek opportunities for campus improvement in accordance with the College’s mission and vision, ensuring alignment with the College’s strategic plan.
  • Provide oversight of annual and long-term capital budgets to ensure responsible stewardship of campus facilities and infrastructure in accordance with established funding models.
  • Ensure that a proactive and effective system of financial and procedural controls is implemented, adhered to, and properly reported.
  • Establish metrics to measure workload distribution and compliance with facilities management standards to optimize resources and ensure consistent quality and efficiency in all projects and work products.
  • Interact effectively with personnel at all levels in the organization and motivates staff members in the pursuit of excellence.
  • Establish programs and opportunities for professional growth, leadership development, and skill advancement opportunities for staff within all Facilities units.
  • Knowledge of current trends and best practices in facilities management with the ability to adapt strategies and approaches to changing trends and conditions.
  • Understanding of facilities management from a technical standpoint and demonstrating the ability to apply technology advancements.
  • Support operational safety and disaster planning for the campus and indirect oversight of the environmental health & safety/risk management functions. 
  • Serve as a liaison to the President’s Staff and the Board of Trustees.
  • Plan for and provide emergency services in the event of facilities problems caused by such things as accident or severe weather. This will require continuous “on-call” availability of the Chief Facilities Officer. 
  • Work with the Procurement Office in the preparation and awarding of contracts and to ensure the timely and accurate payment of vendors. Work with the Office of the Controller in the reporting of all monthly accounting entries and the management. Work with the Office of Finance and Administration in the development and oversight of capital project budgets and the operational budget of the Facilities Division.
  • Responsible for the selection of various College architectural and engineering consultants and coordinating appropriate/best architectural/construction delivery method for each approved construction project.
  • Responsible for the Facilities Department’s website, campus profile, and public relations.
  • Establish and maintain mutually beneficial working relationships with local governmental and other external authorities responsible for economic development, zoning, permitting, and construction approvals, and other regulations affecting the safe and efficient operation of campus facilities.
  • Responsible to ensure that the College is on track to achieve its stated and signed Carbon Commitment by 2025.
  • Responsible for supporting energy efficiency and sustainability and other green initiatives across campus, with a goal to achieve carbon neutrality.
  • Point of contact for unionized leadership relative to Facilities Operations.

Overview of the Institution

Oberlin College, an independent coeducational institution, holds a distinguished place among American colleges and universities. Oberlin was the first college to grant undergraduate degrees to women and, historically, was a leader in the education of African Americans. The Oberlin community is known for its academic and musical excellence and its commitment to social engagement and diversity. Oberlin serves almost 3,000 students, 1,000 employees and maintains an endowment of $890M. Carmen Twillie Ambar became Oberlin’s 15th, and first African American, President in its 184-year history. The 440-acre campus includes 45 academic buildings, 26 residential buildings, and 118 student village houses and faculty/staff rentals.

Oberlin is the 30th ranked Liberal Arts College in the U.S. and uniquely combines an outstanding professional school of music with a leading undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the U.S., provides flexible programs to prepare students as professional musicians and teachers of music. Deeply committed to academic excellence, the College of Arts and Sciences offers a rich and balanced curriculum in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and natural sciences. Within that framework the College expects that students will work closely with the faculty to design an educational program appropriate to their own particular interests, needs, and long-term goals.

Oberlin enjoys outstanding facilities.  Situated on roughly 500 acres in Lorain County, Ohio, Oberlin's physical plant includes extensive classroom and office space; one of the nation’s most extensive college library collections; one of the finest campus art collections in the country; and first-rate facilities in music, theater, the sciences, computing, and physical education.  

In sum, Oberlin's physical plant comprises approximately 2.75 million square feet of buildings, classified as follows:

  • Academic: 28 buildings / 1,101,300 square feet
  • Administrative: 7 buildings / 90,000 square feet
  • Athletics: 7 buildings / 274,000 square feet
  • Athletics fields: track & field, soccer, football / multi-purpose artificial-turf stadium, cross country / track, and miscellaneous practice fields
  • Faculty / other residential: 18 buildings / 35,000 square feet
  • Other support: 18 buildings / 292,000 square feet
  • Student residential: 84 buildings / 957,000 square feet

All facilities have been designed, and are constructed and maintained, to support the mission and programs of Oberlin College and Conservatory.

Mission Statement

Oberlin educates students for lives of intellectual, musical, and artistic rigor and breadth; sustained inquiry, creativity and innovation; and leadership. Oberlin aims to prepare graduates with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives essential to confront complex issues and to create change and value in the world.

Oberlin is committed to educational access and opportunity. It seeks to offer a diverse and inclusive residential learning environment encouraging a free and respectful exchange of ideas and shares an enduring commitment to a sustainable and just society.

Required Qualifications

  • At least ten (10) years of experience with, office administration, budgeting, financial control, and general business operations; personnel and performance management; and continuous quality improvement or process management methods.
  • Experience in leading organizations that are reliant on integrated electronic information systems and their use in the automation of such functions as design, inventory/ordering, and scheduling. 
  • Demonstrated experience in strategic planning and building consensus.
  • Demonstrated success in managing multiple priorities and constituencies in a fast-paced, lean environment requiring quick turn-around on key decisions.
  • Demonstrated experience in enhancing internal controls and operational and organizational efficiency.
  • Demonstrated experience in risk management.
  • Experience directing a collective bargaining workforce.

Desired Qualifications

  • Strong knowledge of sustainability practices.
  • Higher Education or other campus facilities leadership experience, such as healthcare or pharmaceutical is preferred.
  • Advanced Degree such as Masters in Engineering, Public Administration, Business Administration or related field.
  • Deep appreciation for the historic and sociocultural mission of the College.
  • Demonstrated success in enhancing workplace diversity and inclusion.
  • Previous experience working with a bargaining unit group.
  • Successful experience in addressing and managing conflict.
  • Demonstrated success in establishing clear expectations and holding responsible parties accountable for their performance.
  • Certifications such as PMP, LEED AP, FMP, CFM, etc.
  • Experience with organizational assessment and restructuring to promote organizational success.


  • Strong Communicator – Thoughtful, conscientious, and follows-through.
  • Collaborator / Partner in Strategy Execution – Encourages engagement as part of the educational process to enhance learning outcomes.
  • Customer Service Oriented / Student Engagement – Thoroughly engages end-users / students and effectively manages expectations.
  • Team Player / Approachable – Motivates others in a positive manner and seeks out feedback.
  • Prioritization – Establishes organizational structure and communicates priorities.
  • Respectful – Honors and respects others and garners respect.
  • Curious / Creative / Passionate – Looks outward to be change agent and inspires / energizes others.
  • Proactive Leadership – Maintains a big vision and holistic mindset.


Within the range established for this position, salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience and includes an excellent benefits package.

Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Oberlin College is committed to the creation and nurturing of a diverse community of individuals through inclusive excellence. Diversity involves recognizing the value of differences and the inclusion of all members of the community including those that experience discrimination or under representation. This is a core value of the organization as we strive for a culturally diverse student body, faculty and staff that reflect the multicultural nature of the nation and our world and bring unique strengths and abilities, which contribute, to our institution.

Special Instructions to Applicants

All applicants should complete the online application and include the following documents; cover letter, resume and list of 3 professional references.

Search Consultant: Marc Datz

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