Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) is a State College of the University System of Georgia with 3,475 students from 154 of Georgia’s 159 counties, 21 states, and 26 countries. With a distinct mission and identity, ABAC’s academic and campus offerings respond to the unique needs of its students. The School of Agriculture and Natural Resources is the largest of four schools of study on campus which also include Arts and Sciences, Business, and Nursing and Health Sciences. supports the more than $329,844,725 in economic impact of Agribusiness in the state of Georgia. The campus includes horse stables, a 200-acre teaching laboratory called the J.G. Woodroof Farm a nine-hole golf course, and the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village.
As one of nine institutions included in Corvias’ 65-year partnership with the University System of Georgia (USG), Corvias’ program with ABAC was developed to address its very specific set of challenges and priorities. Corvias assumed the management and operations of all 1,324 beds on campus and has implemented a development plan that will renovate or replace each housing facility at least five times throughout the partnership. ABAC and Corvias integrated seamlessly, with the College maintaining its Residential Life and Education programs, providing the important and impactful student services that maintain the distinct campus culture without having to divert attention or resources to facilities management functions.
The College’s housing facilities and residential life programs are an integral part of the student experience— more than 35% of the student population resides on campus. Initially, Corvias and ABAC worked together to outline a program that would meet the immediate needs of the College and its students and established a program for the ongoing redevelopment, improvement, and renovation of all beds over the 65-year term. Beginning with nearly $546,145 in capital improvements to upgrade existing housing, Corvias and ABAC evaluated which projects took priority and would provide the greatest impact. The program began with the renovation as well as the replacement of more than 4,800 total yards of corridor carpet, addition or replacement of signage where necessary, cleaning of building exteriors, installation of emergency and motion sensor lighting, and caulking of outside windows for increased energy efficiency. Through the installation of LED lighting technology, working with Georgia Power Company to qualify for discounted educational utility rates, and the leveraging of Corvias’ national purchasing power.
Upon assuming operations in July 2015, Corvias and ABAC co-located their administrative offices to centralize services and enhance communication. Working together to reinforce ABAC’s Residence Life programming model based on eight core competencies, one of which is Apartment Living, the team supported students’ development into independent living by taking an educational approach to the operations of the units and facilities. Corvias trained ABAC Resident Assistants (RAs) in basic building functionality and room maintenance including fundamentals such as setting thermostats for maximum efficiency and locating water shut-off valves in the event of an emergency. Additionally, Corvias has worked closely with ABAC’s Residence Life team to deliver facilities and services that support the students outside of the classroom. Corvias has found ways to add value beyond simply providing a bed and a desk to working with campus leadership to ensure that students are complying with campus safety regulations regarding sportsman equipment, Corvias continuously works to deliver resources and support as an active member of the campus team. This also includes working closely with ABAC to support and enhance the College’s marketing effort for the institution resulting in website improvements, new brochure development, and securing lower pricing for printing and promotional services. This teamwork combined efforts to enhance the residential experience, communication to students about Financial Aid deadlines and more to decrease the drop rate from fall to spring by nearly four percent.
To support the program for the long-term, Corvias has established sufficient reserves to ensure ABAC’s housing is devoid of deferred maintenance and always in quality condition. In addition to standard operating reserves, Corvias establishes a robust capital repair and replacement program as well as a dedicated program reinvestment reserve. This allows for a comprehensive approach to lifecycle management as well as a long-term development plan that ensures all housing will be renovated and/or replaced at least five times throughout the partnership term, eliminating deferred maintenance across the campus’ housing inventory. With each renovation or replacement, Corvias and ABAC can ensure the housing program meets the ever-changing needs of the College and its future students, while offering continuously modern and marketable facilities. Because of this, ABAC does not need to invest any additional funds into the program for the full 65-year term to update and maintain its housing, resulting in the ability to focus its capital to other needs and priorities on campus.
The partnership has focused efforts on programs and facilities on-campus that are important to the administration and students. Early in the program, the partnership was tested with a State emergency. During Hurricane Matthew in 2016, many students in Georgia were displaced due to massive flooding and emergency evacuations. Corvias and ABAC worked quickly to provide accommodation for 21 students and 2 staff members from College of Coastal Georgia until they could return safely to their campuses. In addition to housing numerous students, the College was also able to host several Red Cross volunteers who had come to the area to provide aid in the recovery effort.