A message from Planning

December 16, 2021

In reflecting on the expansive Yale career of John H. Bollier, colleagues from across the department have shared their sentiments. In this interview, Dev Hawley, director of University planning for the Office of Facilities, describes John’s imprint on him and the greater University, among other things.

What is the first project you worked on with John? What year was it?

I joined Yale in 2017. My first day on the job started at a lunch meeting with John at Edward P. Evans Hall. During that meeting, he said that we had to focus on that building operationally. It was the newest building on campus, having opened in 2014 and needed some attention. It was initially being managed as a standard classroom building. It houses classroom spaces like a lot of buildings on campus, but was actually more like an international conference center, hosting visitors from all over the world—many who came to the Yale School of Management with a high set of expectations.

That conversation was the beginning of a strategic shift toward a more customized approach to Facilities operations. This new approach allowed us to implement an overall strategy that recognizes unique requirements for unique use-cases in buildings like Evans Hall, the Schools of Music and Law, the libraries, the Yale Physician’s Building, and the Yale Health Center.

What have you learned about Yale that you would not have already known without John’s perspective?

I came from a corporate background, wherein many circumstances there is a model of outsourcing certain services that make sense based on cost analyses. What is interesting at Yale, and what John offers is a genuine perspective about the University’s role in the community of New Haven.

He is truly interested in how Yale and New Haven can work together to educate and train members of the local community for full-time employment. The level of focus and effort that John has put into promoting and engaging the local community was refreshing. I’ve learned that engaging the local community will lead to all sorts of meaningful and exciting opportunities for all parties involved.

What will you miss about John the most?

It’s rare to have someone who grew up in the organization and knows so much about the portfolio and the story of Yale’s development over the last 30 years. That historical perspective is invaluable. John brings that historical perspective to everything we do. I hope we can continue to count on his wisdom, even after he has retired, because his instincts are valuable to campus planning.

What is the most rewarding project you’ve worked on with John?

Interestingly, the most rewarding project was not a building, but a landscape, Sachem’s Wood. The University’s long-term strategic focus on the sciences has led to the major redevelopment of Science Hill. As part of that, John took a bit of a risk reinventing the long-neglected Sachem’s Wood into a landscaped corridor that beautifully connects central campus with Science Hill. I think it is now perfectly natural to walk down Hillhouse Avenue and then walk up the wood today on the way to Science Hill or back to central campus.