By Ken Winstead
As capital improvements are a constant in remaining attractive to elite student athletes, I thought it a good idea to spend some time recently with someone who oversees this area at a power five institution.
Chip Lydum, the Associate Athletic Director for Operations & Capital Projects at the University of Washington (shown above), has overseen every facility improvement there for the past 18 years. Overall, he has worked at UW for 31 years. Every program needs someone of Lydum’s professionalism, loyalty, and enthusiasm; I had the privilege of working with him for 10 of these years when serving there as Associate Athletic Director for Fund Development.
The most recent project Lydum oversaw was the renovation of Husky Stadium. I wanted to get his insight on what he feels are the key responsibilities of someone who oversees a project the size of a 75,000 football stadium.
Initially, he touched on areas I was anticipating, but then shared thoughts I was not expecting and found especially intriguing. Here is a summary of our discussion:
A project manager must be someone who can effectively organize and promote collaboration among university leaders, architects, and contractors leading to consensus; especially in a university setting. When consensus is reached, it is then time to “shut out the noise” and focus on the plan.
Once momentum gets going, you must keep all pertinent university staff and external partners aligned; as universities in many cases can tend to move a little slower than the private sector. The highest priority according to Lydum is “knowing the people involved. It is important to know who is driving the nail as opposed to what type of nail is used.” Everyone involved must feel an enormous sense of responsibility as “it is hard to imagine any other initiative that could create a greater sense of community.”
At the University of Washington, the setting of Husky Stadium is iconic with an enormous national brand. Those involved in the project needs to comprehend the important role they are playing in preserving a legacy. Something decades of students, alumni, and fans feel a high level of emotional attachment toward.
The project manager must instill the need for all to think of themselves being key players on a championship team; with each person performing at the highest level. It is important to have coaches and staff of the athletic department also remind them how important they are to the heritage of a great university.
The main thing I learned from Lydum in discussing the Husky Stadium project, is that the project coordinator should possess the same motivational and relationship skills as others in the athletic department. The head football coach motivates his team to perform at the highest level, keeping the fan base excited. The fundraising team recruitments effective volunteers to assist in helping them reach the project’s fundraising goals.
In addition to introducing you to a very special person in Chip Lydum, I hope his insight was helpful to every athletic director when planning their next major facility upgrade.
Ken Winstead is a 30-year veteran of collegiate athletics, most recently serving the Seattle University athletics department as Associate Athletic Director/Senior Fundraiser. During previous stints at UL-Lafayette, Colorado State, Washington, Houston, Oregon, Georgia Southern, and even USA Wrestling, Ken developed a reputation as a successful fundraiser who inspires action by bringing people together and building consensus around a bold vision.
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