Security Grows With Mesa
Continued security options are part of the changing needs in higher education
- By Minu Youngkin
- May 01, 2012
For the past several years, Colorado Mesa University (CMU) has been
growing rapidly, and its access control system has continued to grow
with it. What began as an effort to standardize and improve the way
building security hardware met the changing needs of the campus
has led to an integrated system that provides flexibility and grows
with the university’s requirements.
Colorado Mesa University, which recently changed its name from Mesa State
College, was founded in 1925 as Grand Junction Junior College. Since then, the
school has grown to an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, including almost
1,900 students who reside on campus. As is the case with many colleges, CMU
installed a variety of access control hardware as buildings were built or renovated.
“When I took over, we had a little bit of everything. I had to consolidate because
the campus was growing, and I didn’t have enough space to store spares and
parts for everything,” said Preston C. Ellis, a locksmith at the university. “Part of
the concern, as at any public institution, was finding products that work together
to fulfill the security and operating needs of the institution yet are available from
multiple sources to accommodate the competitive bidding process.”
Ellis notes that some products were available through only a single source or at
a fixed price, which made it impossible to get comparative bids. After identifying
the products that met the university’s current and expected future needs could be
obtained through several sources, RFPs were issued, and a supplier was awarded a
multi-year contract based on cost and service considerations.
Because Grand Junction is located midway between Denver and Salt Lake City,
support plays an important role.
“It’s 250 miles in either direction, and you can’t buy anything here,” Ellis said.
“I have to be able to get help over the telephone because, in winter, the pass may be
closed, and we may have to do our own troubleshooting and repair.”
From Keys to Cards
Beginning with the key system, CMU has steadily upgraded its security and now
is implementing the latest electronic security solutions. Where keys are needed,
patent-protected keyways are used to prevent unauthorized duplication.
“I still have two buildings on the original grand master, but we’re moving toward
Schlage Everest keyways,” Ellis said. “We use Primus selectively where it
overrides the perimeter of a building or in areas that are secured by card readers.”
Because the Primus keys are needed only for overrides, they are kept in a lockbox
rather than being carried, to prevent possible loss.
Residence halls have followed the migration from keys to keyless access control.
Initially, offline locks were used in most applications. One building uses offline
Schlage Campus Locks on pod entrances with SFIC Everest B locks on the four
bedroom doors in each pod. The high-security keys prevent unauthorized duplication
while the electronic locks on the pods eliminate the need for multiple key
levels and frequent rekeying.
As student preference for keyless entry increased, the campus locks were used
exclusively on the successive buildings. While access data is computer-managed
with these locks, the actual credential resides on the card. This eliminates the need to update each lock whenever
there is new data. Audit trails and other
data still can be downloaded from
the lock via a PDA and transferred to
the computer. The offline locks can
manage an unlimited number of cards
and require no hardwiring.
In its latest residence halls and academic
buildings, CMU is moving toward
the newest generation of electronic
locks. Schlage AD Series locks are
designed so they can be changed easily
to another configuration if needed by
simply replacing a module instead of
the entire lock.
The new Bunting Residence Hall,
opened in fall 2011, is equipped with
more than 500 Schlage AD-250 locks,
which perform the same function
as the campus locks used in existing
buildings. Both have access rights
stored on the user’s card.
Perimeter access control for academic
buildings outside of normal
operating hours generally is provided
by card reader. These are mainly hardwired
online installations, although a
few are wireless. All are controlled by
a Schlage security management system,
which also is integrated with the university’s
one-card system. Ellis says CMU
has one of the largest SMS installations
in the state, with 15 or 16 panels.
Card access is especially beneficial
in the large University Center building,
which houses a wide variety of organizations
that include student government,
the campus radio station, an
art gallery and much more. When the
building is locked, authorized students
have access around the clock with their
cards. Ellis says the cards eliminate the
costs and time associated with keys
that are lost or not turned in when a
Currently, CMU is renovating its
oldest classroom building, which made
it necessary to move its offices to temporary
buildings. To secure the temporary
offices, Ellis used wireless locks to
simplify installation. Once the renovation
is complete, he will use the locks
on other buildings. One panel interface
module (PIM) controls access to four
of the temporary buildings.
Wireless access control also is used
at the Hamilton Recreation Center and
El Pomar Natatorium. Here administrators
solved a different problem. When
the natatorium was built, conduits were
not installed for access control and the
amount of concrete made it impossible
to add them later. Instead, the Von Duprin
WA993 access devices and trim
were easy to install without wiring.
Growth continues at CMU, with
a new residence hall or academic
building springing up every 12 to 18
months. As the campus grows, access
control solutions that have the flexibility
to meet changing needs will make it
easier to maintain security for people
“The people are the most important
part, but we have to look at the
property as part of the package,” Ellis
said. “If we lost a classroom full of
computers, it would affect the people
who need them.”
This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Security Today.