College Services - Summer 2017 - 16

The other piece of advice is: don't be afraid to ask questions. There are
going to be things you're not going to get out of the documents. And if
the partnership has transparency, those questions are going to help the
partnership get to a better place. So be direct and upfront about what you
want and need from the management provider. That is critical.
Marsh: It's always key you hire a company that's going to put your
students first. A management partner that will be comfortable with making the hard decisions in the beginning that will later result in something
that's going to be beneficial and productive for your students. Also, make
sure you get a provider that has done this work in the past. And finally,
get a company with employees that don't view what they do as work, but
something that is a joy doing - working with students.
Bekurs: I go back to what I said earlier: trust and communication. It's
more than just believing they're not going to steal your wallet. You need to
verify their vision and yours are the same. Like Jeremy said, read the documents, ask questions. Make sure you truly understand how it's supposed
to function. This can clear up - on the front end of the partnership - a
lot of potential future challenges.
Are there any talents and expertise beyond the operational services a
student housing management company typically provides that universities don't consider asking for, but should? And how does your answer
to this play into the misconceptions universities have about a student
housing management partnership?
Savolskis: I would start by saying that, from my experience of working for both sides, the private management company is not the dark side.
They're not evil, they're not coming to take over student affairs or residence
life. They're meeting a need in certain places. This type of arrangement
doesn't work at every institution, but at many, it's a great fit. And to the
second question, private management companies have more flexibility
to quickly ramp up and ramp down their staff, which enables them to
have greater flexibility than most institutions. Also, private management
companies typically have a very deep bench of experience they can draw
from across their company. When problems come up, they have a breadth
of experience from the numerous other schools they work with, to see
the bigger picture and provide creative solutions.
Bekurs: Three words: agile, nimble, and flexible. In my experience on
both sides, none of these words typically describe how a university operates. The surprising advantage, is that when you have a strong management
partnership, the university suddenly becomes all these things. And thus, the
university has the ability to respond to the market. To me, that's what it's
about: being able to assess, determine a need, and respond in a way that
doesn't leave the university behind the city, town, or community we are
in. Management partnerships allow us to do that.
Marsh: I think the misconceptions universities have is that partnerships
are always one-sided. That is, a student housing management company
is only about getting heads in beds. The great thing about being a student
housing professional at COCM is that we are the total package. There is a
tremendous level of support for us at our home office, from the president
of our company down.
Biddy: I'm going to take a little different approach to answering this.
I think one of the greatest misconceptions is that difficult relationships
don't work. However, I think about some of our greatest successes and
how difficult they were early on. But it is amazing, what a full building and
an operational budget that works, does for a partnership. Those difficult

16

CO LLEGE SERVI CE S | SUM M E R 2017

relationships are sometimes the best, because they are built over that
stressful period, and you develop trust. It's almost like you've been in the
foxhole together. So, to me, those relationships which are difficult at the
beginning are often the birthplace of long-lasting, very fruitful partnerships.
And as far as what we bring to the table, there are a couple of things.
The deep bench of employee experience is certainly one. The other
thing is we have an expertise when it comes to contracts. By that I mean,
contracts for IT, painting, and so on. Our directors are negotiating and
executing these type contracts all the time and by doing this, are gaining
expertise that, in many university settings, are centralized in a procurement office. So, when a university asks us to advise them on what to look
for in a contract for IT services, we can look across our portfolio and tell
them how their proposed cost stacks up with what COCM is paying for this
service as other campuses. And when you develop strong relationships,
this flows both ways. For example, when COCM was looking at software
programs, we reached out to our university partners to ask them about
their experience with certain programs.
Anything else you would like to add?
Savolskis: Call the references! As many of them as possible. Believe it
or not, there are companies that will list references which are way out of
date. What I have found is that universities sometimes don't go through
the list of references as deep as they should.
Bekurs: There is another misconception I would like to add about student housing management companies. There is also the misconception
that to have a private management company is overly expensive or not
a good value. The truth is, it is more often a very good value and will end
up either saving you money or at least not costing you any more than if
you went at it alone.
In each of your careers as a student housing professional, what has
been the most personally rewarding for you?
Bekurs: The people and the relationships.
Savolskis: The partnerships in which we were able to fix challenging
problems. Those where we took a project that was struggling and turned it
around to full occupancy and operational success. It made me feel personally rewarded that things were better for the institution and the students
there. That's why we all do this, not just for money, but because we want
to make things better for the people and students involved.
Biddy: For me, it's giving that check to the university when there is an
operational surplus. But it's also those moments when someone on the
campus asks me to tell them what I do, because they are interested in
it. And I get to share my experience and my story with someone at the
institution. And sometimes down the road, someone at that institution,
when a job opens at COCM, they apply for a job with us, because they
appreciated the relationship we had with them on that campus. To me,
that's always a win.
Marsh: That we can provide a quality space for students, that can help
them be successful. It's Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. We provide a quality
environment so that students can succeed in their studies, graduate, and
become alumni. That's what motivates me to do what I do on a day-today basis.
Alton C. Irwin is Chief Marketing Officer COCM, Auburn
University.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of College Services - Summer 2017

Opening Remarks: Presidential Perspective
Future-proofing your organization’s leadership
Perspectives on strong campus housing partnerships from both sides of the table
Achieving institutional excellence through collaborative sustainability efforts
New partners for new ventures
Corporate Partnerships: Focus on university partnership
Partnerships and possibilities: Working together to bring a food truck to campus
What vendors wish we knew
Partnerships key to addressing food insecurity at WSU
Student Author Contest winners
Partnership at its core: Arizona State University's Sun Devil Fitness Complex and the Downtown YMCA
In Closing Executive Summary
Professional Development Calendar
Advertisers Index/Advertisers.com
College Services - Summer 2017 - intro
College Services - Summer 2017 - belly1
College Services - Summer 2017 - belly2
College Services - Summer 2017 - cover1
College Services - Summer 2017 - cover2
College Services - Summer 2017 - 3
College Services - Summer 2017 - 4
College Services - Summer 2017 - 5
College Services - Summer 2017 - Opening Remarks: Presidential Perspective
College Services - Summer 2017 - 7
College Services - Summer 2017 - 8
College Services - Summer 2017 - 9
College Services - Summer 2017 - Future-proofing your organization’s leadership
College Services - Summer 2017 - 11
College Services - Summer 2017 - Perspectives on strong campus housing partnerships from both sides of the table
College Services - Summer 2017 - 13
College Services - Summer 2017 - 14
College Services - Summer 2017 - 15
College Services - Summer 2017 - 16
College Services - Summer 2017 - 17
College Services - Summer 2017 - 18
College Services - Summer 2017 - Achieving institutional excellence through collaborative sustainability efforts
College Services - Summer 2017 - 20
College Services - Summer 2017 - 21
College Services - Summer 2017 - 22
College Services - Summer 2017 - New partners for new ventures
College Services - Summer 2017 - 24
College Services - Summer 2017 - 25
College Services - Summer 2017 - 26
College Services - Summer 2017 - 27
College Services - Summer 2017 - Corporate Partnerships: Focus on university partnership
College Services - Summer 2017 - 29
College Services - Summer 2017 - Partnerships and possibilities: Working together to bring a food truck to campus
College Services - Summer 2017 - 31
College Services - Summer 2017 - What vendors wish we knew
College Services - Summer 2017 - 33
College Services - Summer 2017 - 34
College Services - Summer 2017 - Partnerships key to addressing food insecurity at WSU
College Services - Summer 2017 - 36
College Services - Summer 2017 - 37
College Services - Summer 2017 - Student Author Contest winners
College Services - Summer 2017 - 39
College Services - Summer 2017 - 40
College Services - Summer 2017 - 41
College Services - Summer 2017 - 42
College Services - Summer 2017 - 43
College Services - Summer 2017 - 44
College Services - Summer 2017 - Partnership at its core: Arizona State University's Sun Devil Fitness Complex and the Downtown YMCA
College Services - Summer 2017 - 46
College Services - Summer 2017 - In Closing Executive Summary
College Services - Summer 2017 - 48
College Services - Summer 2017 - Professional Development Calendar
College Services - Summer 2017 - Advertisers Index/Advertisers.com
College Services - Summer 2017 - cover3
College Services - Summer 2017 - cover4
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