Security Goes According to Plan at Kutztown University

Because the University’s existing one-card system was used for credentials, purchases and other functions, the access control software had to be easily integrated with it.

By developing a comprehensive access control plan that addresses its evolving needs, Kutztown University has moved successfully from improving key control through integrating electronic access control with its one- card program. With its latest move into the newest version of electronic access control, the University’s approach continues to ensure consistent, reliable security solutions.

Located on a 289-acre campus midway between Reading and Allentown, Penn., Kutztown University comprises four colleges: Business, Education, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Visual and Performing Arts. Founded in 1866 as Keystone State Normal School, it achieved university status in 1983. Currently, it serves 10,700 students from 26 states and 51 nations, with 459 full-time faculty members.

Over the years, the University has built its approach to many areas of operation on industry best practices, refining and developing them to meet its needs. For example, its grounds program has won national awards for the past two years. In developing an access control program, it has followed the same path.


Key Control Beginnings

Previously, many different key systems had been used on campus, resulting in a lack of key control. Beginning with the basic organizational structure, the key and lock shop was moved several years ago from being a segment of the carpentry shop to the business services part of the facilities department, to more effectively implement and control a new key and lock policy. As part of the move, a new lock shop was built and fully equipped, including cabinetry, equipment and tools.

When renovations began with the large Old Main building, a key hierarchy was developed and the building was re-keyed, marking the beginning of a comprehensive physical security program. Director of Facility Business and Campus Services Kim Rhode says, “Before, too many people had grand masters, so we transitioned to one master key program on a key hierarchy, with a meaty key and lock policy behind it. That gave the administration control over the grand master issue.”

She says the campus uses two grand masters, one for residence halls and another for academic and general buildings. Sub-masters are used under each area for smaller operating areas. Rhode says it took close to 10 years to implement the key program fully. “At the time,” she recalls, “we probably had about 18,000 doors on campus, so it was a large fiscal commitment to rekey them all.”

At the same time, tracking and accountability for keys issued was moved to an administrator, as well as control of key blank inventory. “That added a layer of security for the University and minimized some liability issues,” Rhode notes.

Today, keys are being replaced by electronic access controls as the campus upgrades security through a comprehensive plan. Eventually, keys will be used only by emergency and service personnel for bypass needs. Once a person has an electronic credential, he or she will no longer hold a key. When discussing security needs with a department head or other individual, Rhode helps them select the best type of lock for their situation by pointing out the trade-off between convenience and security.


Moving to the Next Level

The features and functions available with electronic access controls help to meet these sometimes conflicting needs more closely. Although electronic access was introduced on campus several years ago, it was limited in scope and effectiveness. Rhode notes, “It was only used on one building, and one person ran it, so it had no impact across campus.” In addition, it was installed by an outside contractor and there was no central area of responsibility for servicing on campus. A problem might involve an electrician, IT technician and locksmith, each from a different department.

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