Hickling's motto: 'Anything worth doing is worth overdoing'New Associate VP for Facilities Planning & Management to take reins June 1 Duane Hickling gives new meaning to riding a bike to work.
To report for work as the University's new Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning & Management on June 1, Hickling plans on cycling to Chicago -- from his current home in Madison, Wis., about 150 miles away.
"I live by the motto 'Anything worth doing is worth overdoing,' " said Hickling, an "ultramarathon" cyclist with a penchant for long-distance races.
Hickling was selected for the new position after a nationwide search that began in December. "Duane is clearly one of the best facilities managers in the country -- and we looked at everybody," said Lawrence Furnstahl, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. "He brings an exceptional level of leadership, energy and experience to Chicago."
Hickling comes to Chicago from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has served as assistant vice chancellor for facilities planning and management since 1990. He also has held a variety of positions at the University of Southern California, rising from executive Olympic administrator to executive director for facilities operations and maintenance services between 1981 and 1990.
As Associate Vice President for Facilities, he will lead campus facilities planning, management, design and construction activities. He will also manage the offices of Facilities Planning & Management, Safety & Environmental Affairs and Energy Planning & Management, which previously operated independently of one another.
"It makes sense to have these three departments working together," Hickling said. "For example, if you have a problem with air flow in an office -- is it a maintenance problem, a design problem or a space-management issue? It could be any or all of those.
"Buildings are not always used as they were originally intended. When the use of a space changes, design people need to be consulted, maintenance issues need to be examined, and eventually you need to talk to the safety people for code compliance. I think it makes sense to have these areas better coordinated."
Hickling said his first order of business at Chicago will be simply to get to know the campus.
"At the moment, I feel like the most ignorant person in the world when it comes to Chicago. My first three months will be spent finding out about the culture of the University, finding out what people need, what their priorities are, what tools they are working with. There's so much to know and learn, I feel like the guy trying to take a drink of water from a fire hydrant!" Hickling said. "I'll just be trying to learn as much as I can as fast as I can. It's important to take the time to get to know the needs of the faculty, students and staff."
The challenge at Chicago, unlike at Madison, he said, will be to facilitate "21st-century research and instruction in 19th-century buildings."
"The challenge is to bridge that gap," Hickling said. "It's important to preserve the fine old buildings on campus. They are inspirational, and the architecture really makes a statement about the culture of the University. But, for example, when everyone working in those buildings has a personal computer, it creates a heat load that could not have been anticipated when the buildings were constructed. It's difficult to go into a historic building and create an ideal modern-day workplace. It's one of the things I look forward to working out."
Hickling -- who has competed in 200-mile and 24-hour bicycle races and a 52-kilometer cross-country ski race as well as having run "a few" marathons -- says channeling his competitiveness into athletic events allows him to be a better manager.
"I am fairly competitive, which is not necessarily great for managing. It is good to have other activities as competitive outlets," he said.
As Associate Vice President, he said he sees himself as more of a business manager than anything else. "There are already many good people in facilities at Chicago. Most supervisors and workers know the technology -- they don't need a boss to tell them how to do things. They may need a leader to run interference for them and to run the business of facilities management."
Hickling said he decided to come to Chicago in part because he was intrigued with becoming part of the management team coming together under President Sonnenschein.
"I understand that the goal at the University is to have the best faculty and the best students and to allow them to do their work by providing the best support for them possible. To do that, we need to understand the faculty's priorities for academic programs, they need to know our priorities in facilities, and we all need to be able to interact with fundraisers, to have good working relationships and to be part of a team.
"A lot of campuses don't have this type of interaction. In some ways, it's harder to manage that way, but as an institution, you can be a lot more effective. And it's a lot more fun to be effective than to be road kill because you couldn't get out of your own way."
Before joining the University of Southern California in 1981, Hickling served as a loan officer for the Department of Agriculture, as head women's rowing coach for the University of Pennsylvania and as a U.S. National Team rowing coach. He received his B.A. in economics and geography in 1970 from Syracuse University.
-- Colleen Newquist