By Matt Penney

I just returned from a parking conference in Arkansas.  I’m now sitting back at my desk trying to catch up on everything I missed during my time away.  Work stacks up so quickly.  As my attention span gets the better of me, I find my mind drifting back to thoughts from the conference.

This morning, I have been sharing highlights of conversations with the Baylor office staff.  Small nuggets mostly; quick thoughts on how other universities solved a specific problem.  Sometimes they’re words of warning about issues another department encountered. We laughed together when I repeated crazy customer stories from across the country–it’s good to know it’s not just Baylor.

Then there are stories I internalized.  A peer manager at another university visibly strained by his supervisor, a micro manager who doesn’t understand parking.  A team of directors who all knew their operation inside and out.  How the room was filled with humble leaders and a handful of bold karaoke singers.

At that conference, almost without exception, what I saw impressed me.  Creative problem solvers looking for the best technology for their campus.  Budget-conscious planners stretching to get the most bang for their buck.  Visionaries who didn’t necessarily like the rise of yet another mode of transportation but understand the trends need attention.  Most importantly, I saw managers who cared about their customers.

I’ve heard it said that no one chooses parking, that parking chooses you. From what I can tell, parking has chosen some outstanding people.

Matt Penney is director of parking and transportation services at Baylor University.