This month, I will attend my fourth California State University Facilities Management Conference, which is held every two years. As we prepare VPCS’s exhibitor booth, choose fun giveaways and assemble information on the long list of CSU major capital projects with which we’ve been involved, I’ve been thinking about the important relationship between VPCS and the CSU System.

The CSU Maritime Academy (Cal Maritime) gave VPCS our first major project way back in 1997. George Owens, a well-known figure in the CSU Facilities Management community, chose to entrust an important assignment to two guys just starting out on their own. It was a good call and a great fit . . . a new CM for a new CSU campus. In the nearly 20 years since, VPCS has managed every major capital project at Cal Maritime, as well as numerous projects at CSU campuses throughout the state. This is a fact we are more than a little proud of. The best part of this story is that years after that fateful day in 1997, George Owens ended up coming out of retirement to work for our firm. A former client interested in working on our team – truly the highest compliment.

This give-and-take, this strong and lasting client relationship, all started at CSU Cal Maritime. Now, that foundational assignment represents our relationship with the CSU system itself – a system that has given our firm so much! Yes, it’s allowed us to work on exciting new projects. But more profoundly, it’s given us an opportunity to collaborate with true professionals and to work within an environment of diversity, forward-thinking and creativity. It’s no coincidence that those very characteristics embody the true spirit of the Facilities Management Conference.

I have never left this conference without having picked up a new concept, a new delivery method or a new approach to planning/design. CSU is always looking for ways to reinvent itself; always striving for more success in capital planning, design, construction and facilities management. This aligns with the larger goals of higher education and resonates with those who have worked within and for the CSU system.

Attending the conference also gives me the opportunity to connect with a community of people with whom I have worked over the years. Like the conference itself, these individuals and the projects we have in common have shaped the way I manage construction. They’ve given me a template for success, which I also apply to my work in the K-12 arena. I catch myself saying over and over again, “Do you not have a process for that? Well let me share my experience with how the CSU system handles this kind of thing.”

I’m excited to see what this year’s conference has to offer. If you’d like more info about the processes, procedures and staff that make the CSU Capital Planning, Design and Construction program tick, check out their site here. Also, look for more updates from the conference in this blog and via Facebook and Twitter as the VPCS team shares what we learn.

By Kelli Van Pelt Jurgenson