November 28, 2011

University names VP for real estate, campus services, a new post

Alan Fish on a visit this month to Garland Hall. He joins the university Jan. 3. Will Kirk/

It’s all about the customer, Alan Fish says. And the customer, he says, is you.

Fish will join the university Jan. 3 as vice president for real estate and campus services. He will oversee real estate, campus planning and development, on- and off-campus facilities management, transportation and other services.

It’s a new position, one that brings together functions now housed in separate offices.

“This is a customer service–focused reorganization,” Fish says. “The focus will be how much better we can service these customers” in the schools, divisions and other Johns Hopkins units. “It’s about how we can support all the groups in the university and help them reach their programmatic goals,” he says.

Fish is now associate vice chancellor for facilities planning and management at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a position he has held for nearly nine years at a university he has served since 1989. With that experience, he says, he understands and embraces the advantages of decentralized decision making in academia.

On the other hand, he says, “there is a value in having centralized information and centralized support services that are aware of and thinking strategically about what all the moving parts are doing.

“Pulling back and thinking of the whole portfolio and how we can best deliver those services is one of the values of this approach,” he says. “In a time of austerity and increasing financial pressure on students and their families, we need to be smarter than ever about how we manage our campuses. … And it doesn’t have to change the decentralized culture that is the strength of Johns Hopkins and many other educational institutions. That is clearly not the intention.”

The new position maximizes the university’s ability to take a strategic, coordinated, cost-effective approach to managing its campuses and facilities, says Daniel G. Ennis, senior vice president for finance and administration, to whom Fish will report.

“We have found exactly the right person for the job,” Ennis says. “Alan Fish brings critical experience and a singular record of accomplishment to this new role.

“Alan is a consensus builder, a highly effective manager and a judicious steward of university resources,” Ennis says. “He understands the important contributions the university’s facilities programs can make to the economy of our city and state. He will be an extraordinarily valuable citizen of this university and this community.”

At Wisconsin, Fish is in charge of planning, capital budgeting, construction and maintenance for a 900-acre campus with more than 330 buildings. He is responsible for nearly 1,200 employees and an operating budget of nearly $80 million. He oversaw the process that built a new campus master plan; during his tenure, Wisconsin has completed, is building or has started design for 57 projects worth more than $2.3 billion.

Before taking his present job, Fish was associate athletic director and administrative officer for intercollegiate athletics at Wisconsin, Madison, responsible at various times over 13 years for capital projects, budget, personnel, facilities and competition management, and operations of the football and rowing programs.

He has also worked in various budget and policy positions in Wisconsin state government, including as the governor’s legislative liaison and as deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Reinvestment.

Fish is a 1973 honors graduate of Luther College and earned a Master of Science degree in urban and regional planning from Wisconsin in 2001.