FEATURE ‌ Keep on Walking 

Faculty join students on the trek from cars to class

In 1957, Clark Kerr, a former president of the University of California, said that the chancellor's job had come to be defined by three things: sex for the students, athletics for the alumni, and parking for the faculty.

College of Charleston faculty are going to be squeezed out of 250 faculty spaces in the next year for new buildings, losing nearly a quarter of all of the faculty spots to new buildings.

While parking has been a major issue for faculty, these particular losses haven't riled many yet, says Robert Mignone, speaker of the faculty senate.

"People really don't begin to focus on it until it impacts their lives," he says, noting that concern may be tempered by the need for the new facilities, which will relieve cramped quarters on campus.

Work is expected to begin soon on a $20 million expansion of the school's arts center, gobbling up 30 to 40 faculty spaces on St. Philip Street. And the city's Zoning Board recently approved two zoning variances that were standing in the way of a $45 million science center that will replace 225 faculty spots at the corner of Calhoun and Coming, also a popular evening parking spot for students visiting the library or others taking in downtown events.

Though work on the arts building should begin shortly, the college will have to wait until next summer to begin work on the science building because funding hasn't been identified.

The school's 750-space garage on St. Philip was built in anticipation of the new construction, says Monica Scott, vice president for facilities.

"We knew we'd be building on those lots," she says. "That's specifically why we built the garage."

Covered parking is a plus, but progress doesn't come cheap. While the lost spaces cost $350 a year, garage parking is double that. There is an affordable alternative — park at the city's Aquarium garage down Calhoun and take a shuttle to the school for $100 a year.

"That means walking in the heat or waiting on the always undependable trolley," points out Robert Westerfelhaus, assistant professor of communication at the college.

He doesn't fault the school for the lost spaces though, noting the high cost of land that is a staple of urban campus concerns.

"It's a problem of where we're at," he says.

The school has 1,040 faculty spaces and 12,037 student spaces, says Jan Brewton, director of business and auxiliary services.

There may be an opportunity to switch some parking spaces between faculty and students, but there's no plans for increasing the parking stock on campus, Brewton says.

"There's no land to build parking garages on," Scott says, noting that building parking garages encourages more cars when what the school should be encouraging is public transportation. Through the deal with CARTA for the Aquarium shuttle service, students, faculty, and staff receive free rides on the bus system.

New housing on campus also may reduce student demand and private parking nearby may lure students and faculty away from the college's parking lots.

"A lot of times people find their own parking," Scott says. A list of lots is available on the college's website (www.cofc.edu).

Prices run the gamut, with some comparative to the school's rates and others that cost a small fortune for someone just looking for a little shelter for their K-car.

And there's more off-campus parking coming. A mixed-use building at the corner of George and St. Philip streets that should be completed by the fall will house 600 privately owned parking spaces priced at the city's rates surrounded by shops and student housing. The school will spend $56 million for the housing and the cafeteria and developer Anthony McAlister will own the garage and retail space.

Though it's hard to measure demand, McAlister says, college faculty and students likely will be strong customers.

"The reality is you're going to have a lot of those spaces used by the college," he says.

Until there's a parking solution or a revolt from faculty, a 21st century approach to Kerr's comments may be sex for the students, athletics for the alumni and a good pair of Pumas for the faculty.


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