Rocky Mountain APPA History
The charter meeting of the institutions of higher education in the Rocky Mountain area was held at the University of New Mexico on February 23-25, 1953. The individuals primarily responsible for that first meeting were M. F. Fifield of the University of New Mexico and H. L. Dotson of Colorado State University. Forty-seven individuals from twenty colleges and universities were in attendance at the inaugural meeting.
Annual meetings in the early years of the association’s existence were quite simple and elementary by today’s standards. When the group got together, they spent considerable amounts of time discussing how the profession of facilities management (then called buildings and grounds) could be recognized within higher education and how to generate greater respect and appreciation for the services rendered by the organization within its own institution. Presentations at these meetings centered almost exclusively on the techniques, skills and “know-how” associated with campus buildings and grounds operations. Program items included such subjects as chalkboard care, carpeting blunders, using the right paint, planning a field house, trends in timber construction, and the like.
Since most of the early annual meetings were held on the campus of the host institution, tours of the campus, its central plant or state-of-the-art buildings were typically made a feature part of the program. Hosts of annual meetings typically agreed to sponsor the event in order to showcase a new facility or some other “gee whiz” idea or program that had been initiated within their own organization. For most attendees, typically with experience only on their own campus, it was extremely helpful to be taught current practices and instructed on new solutions to common problems for maintenance and repair tasks. The opportunity to gather information on new buildings that house functions and programs found within their own institutions strengthened the knowledge and understanding of attendees so they could adapt similar methods and systems to their own campuses.
An annual gathering to brag about your own accomplishments, to demonstrate skills, to teach new methods and to have a good time in the process was something unique and historically authentic to the Rocky Mountains. Early fur trappers and traders who chose to live and work on the high plains, mesas, mountain valleys, and tall timber country that pervades the region gathered once each year at an event they called a rendezvous. Given this background, it is not surprising that a unique brotherhood developed within the region, which was known as “The Tribe.” Tribal meetings were held concurrent with the region’s annual meeting and its members were considered its unofficial fun fraternity. This group’s aim was to give support and services to the regional association. As the world changed, so did the view of RMA Members and as a result, The Tribe was formally disbanded in 1997.
Over the years the Rocky Mountain Region has matured into a highly professional organization. The region has provided outstanding leadership, not just within RMA but to APPA as well. Annual meetings are well planned and programmed. Educational sessions present timely topics that include cutting-edge technology, upcoming issues and concerns, and strategies to work even smarter. Members of the association benefit from networking with others involved in the same type of work and problems. Over the years many local campus issues and problems have been resolved through this network of facilities professionals because members of the group are willing to share their knowledge and skills.
The fiftieth annual meeting of RMA was held in Banff, Alberta, Canada in September 2002. A magnificent setting in the heart of the Canadian Rockies honored this significant event. The University of Calgary hosted the meeting, which was a highly successful and historical event. Some have wondered about the difference between the fiftieth annual meeting and the fiftieth anniversary of RMA scheduled in 2003. Think of RMA as the “marriage” of many institutions. The charter meeting or “wedding” if you will, is the first major event which took place in 1953, but the first anniversary (and second meeting) fell at the end of the first year of “marriage” in 1954. Hence, the number of the annual meeting always precedes the same number’s anniversary by one year. Thus, 2002 was the fiftieth annual meeting of RMA, but 2003 is the fiftieth anniversary of the association. The fiftieth meeting was held in the spectacular red rock setting of Sedona, Arizona and appropriately highlighted with the theme of Golden Prospects.