Robben will plan and direct the administrative and operational activities of Plant Operations, including maintenance and renovations, grounds, waste management, utilities and building services.
He had been interim director since May, and for the four years prior to that was director of Maintenance and Utility Services, responsible for the operation, maintenance and supply of utilities for U-M facilities on the Ann Arbor campus.
Rich oversaw efforts to bring de-regulated electricity to Central Campus and Hospitals, Baier noted, with an estimated savings for Central Campus alone of $1 million per year. In addition, Rich has directed the implementation of other innovative programs in the utility system, including the Energy Star energy conservation program and the 24-hour per day on-site maintenance coverage for emergencies.
Prior to joining the U-M, Robben was director of physical plant at the Morningside and Midtown campuses of Columbia University for 10 years. His responsibilities included energy conservation and consumption, capital construction improvements to the campus infrastructure, budget preparations and administration; as well as grounds, fire safety and quality assurance. He was an adjunct professor for facilities engineering at the State University of New York-Maritime College before moving to Michigan.
Robben holds a B.S. in nuclear engineering from SUNY-Maritime and an M.B.A. from Columbia. He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 197494, attaining the rank of commander. He is a licensed professional engineer and a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Association of Physical Plant Administrators and the American Management Association.