The master keys at UCA have recently been brought into the light due to an investigation involving a lost key.
The investigation began in June after a theft was reported in Assistant Director of Financial Aid for Scholarships Andrew Linn’s office in McCastlain Hall, Jeff Pitchford, vice president of university and government relations, said.
A thief reportedly broke in and stole four pills out of Linn’s office. The key used was a grand master key and previously belonged to UCA’s chief of staff Jack Gillean.
“Gillean had reported the key missing last fall, but when asked about it, he resigned abruptly,” according to an Arkansas Online article.
Gillean did however, follow the faculty handbook policy which states “All keys that are lost or stolen should be reported to the University Police Department immediately,” under chapter six, sub-heading six “Key Control.”
There is a lengthy process to gaining access to a master key. There are also several different types of keys to different levels of doors.
The two systems of keys on campus are called Best and Schlage. They work independently but have the same hierarchy of keys. There are standard office and room door keys, department master keys, sub-building keys, building master keys that open single buildings, general building master keys that can open multiple buildings and grand master keys. A grand master open all Schlage key systems unless it is purposely removed from the master system due to a high security area with sensitive files or records etc.
The Best system works the same way. Its grand master key opens almost everything unless it is a high security area and purposely taken out.
“There is a hierarchy of a key system. The ability of a key depends on what a person needs and whether he gained the proper approval when requesting a key,” said Larry Lawrence, director of the Physical Plant. “Some people only need an outside door key and an office key for example. Others such as a building administrator or a department head might need an office key, an outside door key and a key to an office suite or even a building master key for just one building, or all four as the case may be.”
As the keys climb in importance, so does the approving authority and cost of replacement. An individual door key must be approved by a department administrator and costs $45 to replace. A department master key must be approved by a dean of college or a department administrator and costs $200 to replace. A sub-building/department master key must be approved by a dean or department administrator and costs $500 to replace. A building master key must also be approved by a dean or department administrator and costs $1,000 to replace. A general building master key must be approved by the vice-president or the Physical Plant Director and costs $5,000 to replace. The grand master key must be approved by the president and the chair of the board of trustees and costs $100,000 to replace.
The Physical Plant Director, Chief of Police, executive staff members, Environmental Health and Safety Director, the Physical Plant locksmiths and UCAPD officers can receive grand master keys.
The keys are specifically tailored to individual needs based on where the person works and what they are using the key for. Most or all Physical Plant employees will have access to the keys so they can do maintenance and building checks. UCAPD also has access to the keys, in the event of an emergency that requires building entry.
“It is necessary for some individuals and departments on a college campus to possess and use master keys in order to fulfill their duties and responsibilities,” Arch Jones, UCAPD project manager, said. “UCAPD is one of those departments. It is sometimes necessary for our officers to use master keys to access areas of campus quickly and efficiently in order to deliver the level of service that our campus community has become accustomed to.”
In addition to the Physical Plant and UCAPD, Aramark also has access to the key systems. Their access is more limited than the others’ and the process of getting a key is similar to any other faculty member.
“Basically we treat them like any other employee. They request keys and if proper authorization is granted, keys are cut and given to the Aramark employee as needed,” Lawrence said. “They must have access, of course, to the Christian Cafeteria, the Student Center food court, the Burdick food court, Farris Center, Estes Stadium, concession stands at the softball and baseball fields and the food area at the College of Business and Starbucks in Torreyson Library.”
Door keys to university buildings and facilities are issued to employees upon completion of a “Key Request” form. In the form, the employee must state, among other information, what department they work in, the level of key they need and the building, area and room or office they will be using, if necessary.
Keys are issued through the Physical Plant warehouse office. The keys are the responsibility of the person they are issued to and are not supposed to be loaned to others at any time. All keys must be turned in to the Physical Plant warehouse office before the employee’s last paycheck is released.
If a key can be verified lost, a report must be filed to the Physical Plant lock shop. If it cannot be verified lost then it must be reported as stolen to UCAPD. The same approval process must take place for the employee to get a new key.
“Individuals that possess and use master keys in the performance of their duties and responsibilities must always know where the master key is located and immediately report if the master key is lost or stolen,” Jones said.
The Physical Plant key policy states that, “key systems should not be relied upon for the security of valuable materials and equipment. Vaults, cabinets, lockers, etc. with special locking devices should be used to secure valuables.”
In January, the Physical Plant develops and forwards a list of keys currently on record as being issued to each college or department to the college dean or department administrator. The dean or department administrator then takes steps to make sure all the keys listed on inventory for a given department are still in the possession of the listed key holder. The college or department then notifies the Physical Plant of any differences in the list for review and corrective action.