Rich Steele, former Interim AVC of Campus Enterprises at NC State and Senior Director of Auxiliary Services at Georgia Tech, began work on campus in late May and assumed his new role on July 1.
What attracted you to the AVC Business Services role?
I had the opportunity to visit Charlotte many years ago and I was impressed with the direction, trajectory and aspirations of the University. Then I came back in October 2018, when I heard that Keith was retiring and found the campus to be incredibly student-centric. Overall, I was very impressed with the campus, the facilities, the people, the departments, and what was happening in Business Services.
What excites you the most about this role?
The fact that there are a lot of great things in our future. Business Services’ role is to improve the quality of life for all of those who live, learn and work on our campus and we have the opportunity to do just that.
What do you hope to accomplish in your first year?
The first year is mainly about learning; learning the processes, the people, the events, traditions and of course, your way around campus. It truly takes a whole year to see the full cycle of what happens here.
What is a challenge you face in Business Services?
We have a business to operate. We have certain needs we have to fulfill like maintaining facilities, building new things, trying new things, and in general keeping up with what we’re doing. But we also have to find a way to help make college affordable. We can’t always increase prices to keep doing more and more. Sometimes we have to think about what we can stop doing, so that we can do other things.
What do you think is the next big thing in higher education or Business Services?
I think focusing on the job market, what the job market demands of our students and ensuring - whether it’s inside or outside of the classroom - that we are preparing students to be successful. I think Business Services has an important role in helping to produce those well-rounded, quality graduates.
What is your favorite career accomplishment?
It’s not a thing, nor an honor or recognition. Seeing people you work with or supervise advance in their career and continue to ask you for advice, guidance or to serve as a reference, that’s my greatest accomplishment. I love to support people as they progress.
What is fact about you that surprises others?
My degree is in chemical engineering. I never necessarily wanted to be a chemical engineer, but it was just one of those things that seemed like a great challenge. I should have changed majors to management or industrial engineering, but once you get into it and survive the first couple of years, you just want to finish.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I do home renovations. I have completely gutted and renovated five kitchens, six bathrooms and did a one-year full gut and renovate on the house we bought in 2009, where I did 95% of the work myself. I would be working on the apartment I live in on campus if I could.
Do you have a favorite place to eat on campus?
Of course, I love them all; they’re all so great that I can’t choose.
What do you think about Charlotte so far?
Well, I love the campus. Uptown is great as well. I think our Center City campus is ideally located in a burgeoning area that is young, vibrant and diverse.
How are you enjoying living in Witherspoon?
It has been unusually quiet, which is really great. It’s also really close to the Light Rail. My four-minute walk to work is a fantastic commute compared to what I had in Atlanta.
Interview: Robin Sutton
Photography: Katie Turner