With increased student support and new faculty hires on the horizon, OSU is benefiting from the infusion of CampusParc’s money, expertise
By Jeff McCallister
A year after Ohio State handed over management of its parking operation to an outside vendor, the deal has shown that its advertised potential benefits were not just pie-in-the-sky dreams.
“The successful leasing of our parking operations is just one example of how innovative financial strategies are helping to fund Ohio State’s academic mission to support the student experience and the work of faculty and staff,” said Interim President Joseph A. Alutto.
“In the first year alone, we have been able to use these new resources to directly fund student scholarships, increase staff development grants by 10-fold and advance our plan to hire tenured and tenure-track faculty in data analytics.”
The 50-year lease of parking operations, part of a comprehensive approach to generate new revenue, awarded the management and operations of the university’s parking operations to QIC Global Infrastructure, who partnered with parking experts, LAZ Parking, which now operates the system under the CampusParc brand.
In return, Ohio State received an up-front payment of $483 million, which went into Ohio State’s endowment fund, and that money already is making a huge impact on the way the university is doing business.
In its first year, that infusion to the endowment earned more than $50 million as the Long Term Investment Pool earned an 11.6 percent rate of return in FY 2013.
After re-investing a portion back into the endowment, about $20 million was distributed to directly support core university priorities including teaching, learning, research and transportation, including:
- The Eminence Fellowship program: The new program in the University Honors and Scholars Center provides financial support, academic and leadership opportunities for a select cohort of Ohio State’s best and brightest students. The university expects to fund 25 of these scholarships each year, thanks to the leasing of the parking operations. Eminence Fellows receive full cost-of-attendance scholarships and are eligible to receive $3,000 in enrichment grant funding.
- Staff Grants: The university has increased the money available for Staff Career Development Grants by 10-fold. What was a $10,000 to $15,000 pool has been increased to $150,000 a year for staff development. Applications are expected to be available this fall with grants distributed beginning in 2014.
- Advancement of Discovery Themes Initiative: Through the addition of new tenured and tenure-track faculty, the 10-year Discovery Themes Initiative will develop transformational approaches to issues of world-wide significance in the areas of Energy and Environment, Food Production and Security, and Health and Wellness. The first Discovery Themes RFP, released in mid-September, targets the hiring of tenured and tenure-track faculty in data analytics, with the first new Discovery Themes faculty expected to come on board in fall 2014.
Over the 50 years of the lease, it has been estimated that the $483 million will provide $3.1 billion in investment earnings for those sorts of academic initiatives, as well as increasing the long-term investment pool by $4.9 billion.
Of course, the change to the parking system has produced a few growing pains; during the transition, customers have lodged complaints about long lines to exit garages, lack of timely response to customer service issues, and the rise in parking rates (which occurred each year prior to the parking lease and was spelled out in the concession agreement to ensure increases were in line with historic rates).
But all in all, Jay Kasey, senior vice president for Administration and Planning, said the arrangement has worked well.
“Even with the significant attention to detail put forth by both the university and CampusParc, we recognize that change can be challenging — especially on a campus of this size and level of activity,” Kasey said. “We understand and appreciate that this has required extra patience and want to acknowledge that we know the work between the university and CampusParc must continue to address the parking needs of our faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors, today, and into the future.”
In addition to working closely with the university to address those issues, CampusParc has shown a commitment to not just solving problems, but improving upon the parking system — and has proactively invested additional funds in updating the parking infrastructure on campus.
Among the changes:
- New transaction equipment: This past summer, new transaction equipment was installed at garage entrances and exits in the Ohio Union North and Tuttle Park Place garages, resulting in decreased time to enter and exit garages.
- Real-time parking information: CampusParc’s website now uses a “widget” that shows space availability in each university garage and is readable on any smart phone.
- License plate recognition technology: CampusParc has began using Permit-by-Plate technology that eliminates the need for the traditional hangtag, with permit verification now conducted by license plate scanning. The technology also is used in new pay-by-plate machines that are replacing the old Pay-n-Display machines — eliminating the need to walk back to your car with a paper receipt. Non-permit parkers also can now use CampusParc’s Parkmobile App to pay for parking on all surface lots with their cell phones.
- Garage renovations: Arps Garage has re-opened after extensive repairs and renovations to the structure, though work will continue on the building through April. The entrance/exit has moved to the south side of the garage. Renovation work now has begun on the North and South Cannon garages. After repairs to North Cannon, that structure now is being used for hospital patient parking during weekday peak hours with the closure of South Cannon Garage for its renovations.
- New availability: CampusParc has extended its permit availability for overnight parking to second-year students for the first time. The permits, formerly available only to juniors and seniors in university housing, are available for the Lane Avenue and West Lane Avenue garages. CampusParc also has begun offering discounted multi-packs of exit tickets good in any campus garage, including Gateway.
“In looking back over the last year, the transition of our parking operations was virtually seamless to the university community, despite the size and scope of the conversion involved in fully integrating our new parking partners into the fabric of the university,” Kasey said. “We are pleased to have CamupsParc’s expertise in that partnership and are confident that we all share the end goal of making our parking operations run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”