When I left UNC Charlotte in May of 2014 I wasn’t sure how the retirement thing would play out, certain at the time that we would be traveling as much as we could, the six-month trip to Europe that year the kickoff to many more adventures. And for the first year or more, it pretty much worked out that way as followers of this blog will attest, with a six week driving trip to the west coast after our return from Europe, not quite a month in Texas and then a couple of weeks at the Outer Banks and Charleston.
Our return from Texas in March brought a surprise, a foreshadowing of more house related needs to come when we arrived at home late afternoon to encounter water seeping out of the garage under the door, after having driven all day from Mobile, Alabama. Our nearly fifteen-year-old water heater was dying and would need to be replaced. After some phone calls and decision making, made more complicated by code changes for water heaters that limited our options and dramatically increased the price of existing units, we decided to install a Navien tankless system, expensive in the short term but hopefully more economical in the long run.
A couple of months later we were approached by Apex Energy Solutions, a window company doing work in our neighborhood, were offered promotional pricing (which turned out to be not as exclusive offer as touted, but a good deal none-the-less), and opted to replace all 28 or so of our nearly 25-year-old windows. These two significant expenses were in the back of my mind when I met the first week of July with some of my former colleagues from UNC Charlotte at one of our favorite haunts, the Wine Vault.
During the evening, Keith, a senior administrator in the Business Auxiliary asked me in a joking fashion if I’d be interested in filling in as the Director of Parking and Transportation as the search for a permanent candidate for that position was taking longer than anticipated. I brushed it off as a harmless remark but later, at home and upon reflection, thought that if the possibility did indeed exist, without any solid travel plans until October this could be good thing for us financially.
So I emailed Keith a day or so later and after some exchanges and a meeting on campus, long story short, I returned to campus in mid-July as the Interim Director for Parking and Transportation Services (PaTS). At first blush this would seem slightly crazy; what in the world did I know about parking and transportation other than how to work an app on my phone to pay for it, or figure out a metro schedule in a foreign city? But an assignment of this nature doesn’t necessarily require an in depth understanding of the subject matter.
Indeed my role would be to act as a buffer between PaTS staff and Keith, provide managerial expertise for HR related functions, and potentially advance a few projects that had been stalled. And essentially this is what occurred as I drafted and pushed through a dress code policy for the office, updated a number of employee records in the new HR system, edited a campus-wide policy on parking and traffic enforcement, and put the finishing touches on a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a bike sharing program for the campus.
The biggest development though was the creation of the Light Rail Coordinating Committee (LRCC), co-chaired by Beth Hardin, the Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs and Betty Doster, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Constituent Relations. Created to address issues pertaining to the long awaited coming to campus in 2017 of Charlotte’s fixed rail metro, the Blue Line Extension is anticipated to impact the campus in both positive and negative ways.
I would end up the chair of the Ridership sub-committee of the LRCC (one of four including Construction, Security, and Communication) a role that would naturally fall to the Director of PaTS. We were charged with handling user concerns, including but not limited to hours of operation, pricing, rider movement on campus post rail trip, and transportation issues impacted by the introduction of the new service. As with most many transportation issues impacting the campus, we coordinate with the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), the city agency responsible for all transit in Charlotte. They provide bus service to and from UNC Charlotte and operate our on campus shuttle bus system.
A need to gain insight and gather data to help in the planning process for the coming of Light Rail led to two projects I still have some involvement with; first a survey of the campus to determine commuting habits, interest in the coming light rail and the bike share concept and the second a mapping project in conjunction with the Geography Department. Using their Geographic Information System (GIS), sophisticated mapping and modeling software, to determine where around the campus, city, and state our students, faculty and staff live.
This and more has kept me busy since I spent October traveling to Copenhagen and then the West Coast. I’ll go into a bit more detail on some of the outcomes of the projects I’m working on in the next post.
Water Heater Changes: http://www.angieslist.com/articles/don-t-let-new-water-heater-rules-surprise-you.htm
Navien Tankless: http://us.navien.com/
The Wine Vault: http://www.headwino.com/
Blue Line Extension: http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/cats/planning/BLE/pages/default.aspx