Office of the Executive Director

History of the Plant Operations Division

In 1837, the Regents of the University established the Buildings & Grounds committee. The Regents appointed a superintendent from among the faculty to run this committee. Buildings & Grounds became a separate operating unit sometime in the 1880s although the Regents continued to appoint the superintendents until the early 1960's. In 1945, the Regents changed our name to the Plant Department. By this time, the University campus had expanded a great deal and this new name referred to our responsibilities of maintaining the buildings of our institution as well as managing/maintaining the equipment and fixtures of those buildings. Time and progress marched on, and as the campus grew and as new technologies were implemented, the Plant Department's responsibilities and staffing also increased. In 1966, we became Plant Operations, a name that better reflected the true nature of our work and responsibilities to the University.

We do more than just buildings and grounds these days. Plant Operations is responsible for maintaining all aspects of the University of Michigan's facilities as well as provide related services (groundskeeping, cleaning, recycling, etc). To help us achieve our goals, we have over 1300 full time employees - engineering, trades, technical, AFSCME, professional/ administrative, and clerical classifications - some units like Building Services (custodial services) and Building Automation Services (monitoring of HVAC controls, alarms, energy management system) provide services 24/7/365.

- Valerie Amo


Plant Operations has been an integral part of the University of Michigan since 1837. We invite you to take a moment to browse through our collection of photos and articles detailing our organization's growth since the University was founded nearly one hundred seventy years ago.

Central Power Plant Pictorial History

October, 2002 / A brief pictorial history of the Central Power Plant with facts and photographs provided by the Bentley Historical Library.

Plant Exchange-The Past Is Prologue (PDF)

October 1999 / "We’ve taken a backward glance at Plant to give its people some idea about what they are connected to, and because—with every passing moment—we too become a part of Plant’s history, just as surely as those who preceded us.” --Armando Lopez

University of Michigan Recycling History

September, 1999 / Graphs, descriptions, and a timeline details the development of recyling at the University of Michigan.

Content modified: August 3, 2005