IPI Member Spotlight - Mary Lynn Holloway

MaryLynnHollowayDirector, Parking & Transit Services
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.

The Parking Professional: What is your current position with the University of Tennessee?  How long have you been there?

Mary Lynn Holloway: I am the Director of Parking and Transit Services. When I retire on March 31, 2011, I will have been with the University of Tennessee for 39 ½ years and in parking for 29 years.

TPP: Tell us about the university's parking and transportation operations.

MLH: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is located in the eastern part of the state. The campus is bordered by the Tennessee River and is next to downtown Knoxville. There are 16,050 parking spaces located in nine parking garages and 146 surface lots on campus.  Located in the middle of our campus is a very large football stadium (100,000+ seats) as well as a 22,000+ seat basketball arena. These large event venues add an interesting challenge to managing campus parking. The master planning for our campus has focused on making the campus more pedestrian friendly. This concept is supported by a robust campus transportation program.

TPP: After 39 years in the parking industry, how do you think it has changed over the years?

MLH: During my years in the parking industry, I have seen the industry mature. Parking operations have evolved from a manual shoebox operation to a sophisticated electronic based service industry. Transportation elements, sustainability, and facilities management have mixed with parking operations to create a dynamic industry that creates career challenges for new professionals entering the business.

TPP: What's the biggest challenge facing the university's parking and transportation operations?

MLH: The biggest challenge we face here at UT is a growing campus. Since our campus is land-locked, most building construction and expansion is slated to be located on available surface property - parking areas. Since there is no additional land available, replacement parking will be in garages, which increases the cost of your program. The growth on campus is also pushing the campus perimeter which will increase the demand for transportation. Three current projects will require expanded transportation - a new sorority housing park, new intramural fields located several miles from campus, and a research park located across the Tennessee River.

TPP: Everyone has a unique story about how they really got into parking. What's yours?

JC: I was working at Cal State Fullerton University in the VP of Administration's office when during budget cuts, my job was being eliminated. My boss asked if I'd like to work for the Parking & Transportation department. I asked what my other options were and when told unemployment, I told myself that parking isn't all that bad. So, I wound up being there working with some great people, learning a whole lot about so many facets of the industry (with little direct responsibility) before coming to George Mason in 2005 when my family relocated.

TPP: How are you working to overcome this challenge?

MLH: Our campus is in the early planning stages for a new 1,200 space garage to replace lost surface space. In addition, the institution has secured additional property within the institutional development zone that we are using for temporary parking. Transportation options are currently being reviewed to set a course for new development demands.

TPP: Everyone has a unique story about how they really got into parking. What's yours?

MLH: I was recruited by the Associate Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration to move into an exempt staff position in the Parking Department. The Parking Department had recently been split from the UT Police department and was being established as an Auxiliary Enterprise. I was employed for a number of years in the Director of Finance Office and later in the Vice Chancellor's Office preparing budgets and financial reports, solving problems and handling administrative support. I had a good reputation for dealing successfully with difficult issues. In 1982, there were not many opportunities for females in professional positions, and most women in the workforce were in support roles. Moving into parking provided me with the opportunity to move into a management role within the university. I was hired to "manage the money" and "create a service office environment." Nobody said anything about managing outside parking. I had only been on the job a short time when I was given the assignment to manage the outside parking during the 1982 World's Fair. Our campus was located next to the fair site and our administration wanted to be able to sell the parking spaces after hours to make additional money to support a growing parking program. This was the beginning of Special Events Parking and the beginning of my journey into the parking industry. I have loved every minute of the journey.

TPP: What's the most interesting parking story you can share?

MLH: The moral of this story is "To Succeed in the Parking Industry, Remember to Laugh..."

I was working a very large event when I received a distress call from one of our attendants. The Special Events Coordinator and I jumped into a vehicle and rushed to the site. In the middle of this parking area our attendant was being chased around the lot by a baby squirrel that had fallen from a tree. I jumped out of the car dressed in my suit and high heels and stood laughing at this humorous site. About that time, this baby squirrel turned, looked me dead in the eye and charged straight toward me where it proceeded to climb my leg while clinging to my hose. Our event coordinator along with staff members walking by proceeded to fall down laughing as I did a jig attempting to relocate the squirrel. Several minutes and a million laughs later, we delivered the squirrel unharmed to our Veterinary Teaching hospital, not sure I can say the same for me.