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Assistant Director - Utility Operations

  • Industry: Facilities Management
  • Location: Gainesville, Florida
  • Client: Institution - Higher Education
  • Search ID: 17-0805-12

University of Florida (UF), a long-time client, has retained Helbling to conduct an executive search to secure an Assistant Director - Utility Operations (Assistant Director for the Department of Utilities and Energy Services) for its 2,000-acre campus in Gainesville, Florida. UF is a major, public, land grant, and research university and with more than 50,000 students.

Reporting to the Director of Utilities and Energy Services, the Assistant Director-Utility Operations is responsible for managing the operations and maintenance of the district utility systems supporting over 20M GSF of education, office, laboratory research, and health clinic space. The primary job functions include the overall responsibility for all aspects of the utility operations departments to include managing the maintenance, repair, as well as documenting infrastructure planning requirements to ensure continuity of campus operations. The position will provide leadership and both technical and administrative management to maintain a reliable, safe, and cost efficient utility operation.
Responsibilities include:
Operational Leadership
  • Management of all UF-owned utility plants as well as all central distribution and collection systems on the main UF campus to ensure reliable, safe, and efficient delivery of utilities.
  • Develops technical and administrative objectives, policies, regulations, practices, methods, and standards for the operation, maintenance, and repair of the university’s district utility systems.  
  • Develops initiatives and establishes priorities for projects to increase safety, efficiency, and reliability.
  • Component utility responsibilities are itemized as follows:
    • Electricity: Operation of all electricity distribution and transmission infrastructure from the point of delivery to the campus buildings. Systems include medium voltage (5KV, 15KV, and 23KV) cable, substations, transformers, and switchgear in both overhead and underground distribution.
    • Chilled Water Production and Distribution: Operation of district network of 9 chiller plants (42,000 tons) serving the campus wide distribution system. 
    • Steam Production and Distribution: Operation of central boiler plant (220,000 Lb/hr) and all steam distribution infrastructure from the point of delivery/production to campus buildings.
    • Water Distribution: Operation of all water distribution infrastructure from the points of delivery from local utility company at campus perimeter to all buildings. Area of coverage includes over 2,000 acres. 
    • Waste Water Treatment: Operations of the 3MGD water reclamation facility serving the campus wide collection system. In addition to the plant, provides operational oversight of the sewer lift stations and storm water system network.
  • Leads the Utilities & Energy Operations group to identify technical and operational issues, and develop solutions and improvements to increase efficiency and reliability.  
  • Assists in developing specifications for utilities systems including scopes of work for upgrades and expansion to the systems. 


  • Directs activities of approximately 59 employees with oversight of staffing, position fills, employee actions, etc.
  • Coordinates reviews and approves employee evaluations.  
  • Resolves employee and customer concerns.  
  • Develops maintenance policies and procedures for plants, equipment, and distributions systems.  
  • Provides leadership and support during major utilities system issues.  
  • May serve as liaison between the university and local utility providers.
  • Requests and reviews technical studies, estimates, reports, plans, designs, tests, and inspections of complex utility systems and equipment.  
  • Provides direction to superintendents to develop and execute business plans for the various utilities.  
  • Develops procedures and prepares formats that provide the necessary information for environmental licenses, permitting, and testing required to meet all federal and state regulations.  
  • Develops policies and standard operating procedures for Operations. 
  • Assists in developing, reviewing, and revising the operating budget for the Operations departments.
  • Manages annual expenditures of $3.5M in personnel, $3.75M in direct operating expenses plus operational oversight of generation and distribution of utility systems requiring approximately $55M in direct utility purchase.  
  • Assists with developing and prioritizing the annual infrastructure repair and replacement program of $4M to $12M.   
Supervision is typically general in nature. However, frequent interaction and strategic discussion with the Director of PPD Utilities & Energy Services will occur regarding technical operations requirements. Direction may be more specific for special assignments. (4 Direct Reports / 60 FTEs)
The Assistant Director directly supervises the following staff:  
  • Utilities Superintendent – Water Distribution Services
  • Utilities Superintendent – Chilled Water / Steam
  • Utilities Superintendent – Waste Water Treatment
  • Utilities Superintendent – Electrical Distribution

Work Schedule

The typical work schedule is Monday – Friday 8:00AM to 5:00PM. The incumbent is expected to be reasonably available during off-hours to respond to emergencies by providing guidance and authority as appropriate. The incumbent will periodically travel to conferences and meetings and represent the Physical Plant Division.  
Minimum Qualifications
  • Master’s degree in an appropriate area of specialization and six years of applicable experience or a Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate area of specialization and eight (8) years of applicable experience.  
Preferred Qualifications  
  • Degree(s) in Engineering, preferably Mechanical, Electrical or Civil.
  • Experience in a utility environment involving a wide range of complex services.
  • Experience in higher education or institutional environment.
  • Knowledge of codes and statues relevant to facility maintenance.
  • Experience managing a diverse organization.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office software to include Excel, Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint.
  • Experience with oversight of large budgets and effective utilization of resources.
Search Consultant: Rick Nawoczynski
Helpful Links:
The University of Florida
The University of Florida – Physical Plant Division
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