5 questions with… Tinkham Veale University Center General Manager Randy Barnes

Randy Barnes CWRUSince it opened in August, the Tinkham Veale University Center already has played host to some impressive names, including rock band OK GO, Inamori Ethics Prize recipient Denis Mukwege and YouTube sensation Laci Green.

Still more will visit the new venue in coming weeks. Upcoming visitors include Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox, author Dennis Lehane, singer Oleta Adams and more.

A less familiar name, but one that is among the most important to “The Tink,” is Randy Barnes, the university center’s general manager.

As general manager, Barnes has a hand in everything that goes on within the many walls of the university center. On any given day, he meets with members of Bon Appetit Management Co. to discuss dining; students to figure out the best ways to utilize space; and department representatives to coordinate and plan events.

“Basically, my team and I do whatever it takes to make sure everything runs smoothly on a day-to-day basis,” Barnes said. “No two days are the same, which makes each day interesting.”

Barnes’ favorite part of his job is being able to show off the environmentally friendly features of the state-of-the art building during group tours.

“It’s fun to be able to show people the new technology, waste-reducing systems and everything that goes into it to make it a LEED-certified building,” he said, referencing the university center’s silver rating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

Barnes’ background in higher education and corporate management made him an ideal candidate for the newly created position. He worked in student affairs at Bowling Green State University and Heidelberg University, and then spent time as the director of development for East of Chicago Pizza Co. and affiliate executive director of ASM International.

After several years in the corporate world, Barnes’ desire to return to higher education—and a college campus—won out.

“I wanted to be back on a campus,” Barnes said. “I knew how to run a student union and interact with volunteers from my time at BGSU and Heidelberg. Tie that to my experience in development and management, and it became clear that this position was for me.”

In addition to running the day-to-day operations of the university center, Barnes also tries to talk to as many different members of the campus community as he can, always taking suggestions as to how he can help make the university center provide something for everyone.

“I think we have a learning curve and I don’t know if people know how to fully utilize the center yet,” he said. “We need to help people understand how it can be a lot of things to a lot of different communities and help people explore what they want it to be. In reality, the different communities and cultures will define how it operates and functions.”

For starters, Barnes wants everyone to know that the university center is open 24/7 and that anyone with a university ID can access the building from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. by swiping his/her card. Also, security is in the building around the clock.

“I encourage the campus community to stop by for lunch or just walk through and explore,” Barnes said. “Everyone gets to experience the building, which I think is a really cool thing.”

To learn more about Barnes, keep reading this week’s five questions.

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation and why?
Driving my truck. I drive on the highway to and from work, and for the Cleveland winters I like to have four-wheel drive.

2. What’s next on your reading list?
I’m reading Cider House Rules right now—along with a few others because I get bored. I’d like to start reading End of Faith by Sam Harris.

3. What has been the most rewarding moment for you while at Case Western Reserve University?
This isn’t the most rewarding, but rather the most powerful moment. It was when I was standing at the back of the ballroom during the memorial service for the students who passed away. I felt honored that we were able to host the service and provide a place for family, friends and the CWRU community to join in mourning.

4. If you had a day to do whatever you wanted, how would you spend it?
I would have a cookout with my spouse, friends, family and my dogs. It’s so fun to have everyone over and have a good time.

5. What is your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
The people. They can be so serious and focused, yet still laugh, smile and enjoy the moment. What a great environment to work in.

For more information about the Tinkham Veale University Center, visit case.edu/universitycenter or check out its Facebook page.