Frederick Burgess, recently the commanding officer of Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Washington, D.C., has been named vice president for infrastructure, properties and planning (IPP) at Cornell. The appointment, effective Sept. 1, was made by Joanne DeStefano, executive vice president and chief financial officer, and approved by the Executive Committee of the Cornell Board of Trustees June 15.
“Rick brings to Cornell nearly 25 years of managing complex facilities, contracts and public works, most recently as the senior executive in charge of planning, building and maintaining the facilities for eight naval bases in the D.C. area,” said DeStefano. “His extensive experience in the areas of energy, sustainability, engineering, real estate and technology make him a natural fit to meet the dynamic needs of the university.”
Cornell’s vice president for IPP leads a team of more than 1,000 employees in planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of university buildings, grounds and utilities infrastructure for the Ithaca campus, including the university’s electricity, steam, chilled water and potable water systems; as well as real estate, the Campus Sustainability Office, campus mail, and commuter, fleet and parking services. The vice president also advises on Cornell Tech campus development and construction contracting.
In his most recent assignment, Burgess supervised planning and design of capital projects, construction management and quality assurance, environmental compliance and remediation, facilities maintenance, and transportation and utilities services for Navy, Marine Corps and joint bases. He provided support for designing replacement facilities for Air Force One, recapitalizing facilities at Camp David, and overseeing transportation for the 2017 presidential inauguration.
Burgess has a master’s degree in civil engineering and is a licensed professional engineer and certified energy manager.
“In my three decades in the Navy, I had work that I enjoy, people that I enjoyed working with and a clear sense of mission,” Burgess said. “I know this will continue in the work at Cornell. I am impressed by the commitment and quality of the IPP team and look forward to working with them.”
Burgess said he is familiar with the challenges presented by Cornell’s mix of historic and modern architectural styles, as he faced similar situations in renovating major academic facilities at the United States Naval Academy.
“Rick brings to the position tremendous experience working in a similarly complex institution and historic campus with a strategic outlook toward addressing the ongoing stewardship of the university,” said Cornell trustee Susan Rodriguez, who was a member of the search committee.
Burgess said: “I look forward to the opportunity to help translate the vision of Cornell’s future into spaces and facilities that are cost-effective, fit within Cornell’s current environment, and balance between refurbishing the old and building new. I’m also looking forward to being a good partner with my colleagues across campus, planning for their immediate and long-term needs and bringing value to Cornell.”
Said Cornell trustee Armando Olivera, also a member of the search committee: “Rick was chosen because he brings a great deal of experience in the areas where we need to focus during the next decade, particularly in addressing the maintenance issues of our buildings and overseeing any new construction. He also demonstrated good interpersonal skills, which I believe will make him a good fit with Cornell and a good member of the Ithaca community.”
Burgess said he and his wife, Trish, a physical therapist, are looking forward to being part of the Ithaca community. They will move to Ithaca with their youngest son, a rising high school junior. The Burgesses also have two older daughters and an older son.
James T. Kazda, director of contract college facilities, will serve as interim vice president starting July 17, when the current interim vice president, Bill Sitzabee, leaves Cornell to assume a post at Pennsylvania State University.