Though a form of Facility Services has existed since the inception of McMaster University in 1887, the department gained sophistication and development as the campus expanded into the Westdale area and continued to grow. Then known as Physical Plant, the department ran relatively small custodial and construction projects until the 1970s. The late 1980s saw the separation of Physical Plant from the Planning and Construction division. The two branches continued to operate separately until 2002, when the two divisions were merged again in an attempt to create a more cohesive department.
Facility Services now oversees all processes that are relevant to the smooth operation of university buildings and grounds. To do this, the department places a strong emphasis on inclusiveness and collaboration. Technological advancement, university needs, and organizational changes have been the driving forces of change in the past, bringing about newer and more efficient practices within the department. These factors continue to shape the way Facility Services operates.
Within the larger university, Facility Services provides service for many specific clients. While it is the intention of the department to aid the university at large in meeting its vision and mission, many other goals by specific stakeholders are met as well. Facility Services is headed by the Assistant Vice President who liaises with university executives, Deans, Chairs, and managers to provide a proactive, service-oriented approach to managing the facility and physical plant operations of the University.
Facility Services also supports the Hamilton community, particularly in the Westdale area, by assisting in projects undertaken by the City and its inhabitants. For example, the department helped to project manage the Ronald McDonald House Hamilton expansion from 2011 to 2012. Facility Services was eager to help support this endeavor. The university is also adjacent to the Royal Botanical Gardens, rendering sustainability a high priority for the department. Facility Services considers these stakeholders in key decision-making opportunities, choosing to forge partnerships where possible.
As a member of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), the department supports the endeavors of universities across Ontario by recognizing the important work done within. Facility Services engages in these groups to show its support for educational and research institutions not only in the province or country, but across the continent.
The department is specifically tasked with the care and maintenance of McMaster’s facilities and assists the university in improving each year to receive a higher ranking in university-comparison forums. Facility Services engages in industry-relevant groups, such as the Ontario Association of Physical Plant Administrators (OAPPA), to share best practices that benefit the industry at large.