University donors, alumni, guests add to list of drivers looking for a spot on campus

Butler University students, faculty and staff might be 1,412 permits short of feeling like they have ample parking, but they’re not the only ones on campus trying to find a spot.

Dozens of donors, alumni and visitors drive to Butler each day, and the departments that bring them said it’s a struggle to make their guests feel comfortable working within the university’s current parking capacity.

There could be up to 60 guest permits issued each day, assistant police chief Andy Ryan said. Those people either park in faculty zones or in meters that the Butler University Police Department blocks off.

BUPD started vacating parking meters on days when guests come to campus, but police chief Ben Hunter said he’s seen a rise in those requests. Hunter said he’s looking into recommending an additional administrative fee to vacate the meters.

“We don’t want to hurt other departments,” he said.

Hunter said issuing temporary passes eventually needs to come at a cost.

“In a month, it’s hundreds and hundreds of temporaries,” Hunter said. “I don’t want to make money off these, but I don’t know that these can be free anymore.”

Representatives from Internship and Career Services brought their concerns to Hunter and Ryan at the Sept. 9 parking committee meeting.

Jeremy Walthall, office coordinator, and Julie Schrader, manager of employer development, said they face parking hurdles whenever they bring prospective employers to campus.

“Those are challenges, being able to provide convenient and easy-to-find parking for constituents who don’t know the campus very well without displacing a lot of people who already park on campus,” Schrader said.

Schrader said despite her department’s best efforts to plan ahead with BUPD to allocate the proper number of guest permits, she’s learned to expect the unexpected.

“When you’re planning events, nothing ever goes as planned,” Schrader said. “Even when we’ve mailed them their passes and communicated everything to them, things happen.”

Internship and Career Services isn’t alone in facing challenges bringing guests to campus.

“I think every constituent on campus may face some parking issue at some point in time,” Schrader said. “The challenges we face are no different than our counterparts.”

Kate Brinkerhoff, director of gift planning, said her department tries its best to make sure donors who visit campus have a comfortable place to park.

“Of course we’re concerned about parking, but I haven’t heard too many complaints from the donors,” said Brinkerhoff, who said she pays extra for a reserved parking spot.

“We all try to be understanding. It’s a college campus, and there are a lot of people here. That’s one of the joys of coming.”

Regardless of donors’ understanding, Hunter said he doesn’t feel comfortable making them struggle to find a parking spot.

“If you’re bringing a $10,000 check to the university, we’re not going to make them put 25 cents into a meter,” Hunter said.

Marcia Boone, director of donor relations, said the current parking capacity influences her department’s planning.

“It limits us in our thinking,” Boone said. “We end up not putting on any additional events because finding parking for donors can be a problem. It’s one of those things you consider.”

Down the road, Boone said her hope is that the university builds a garage.

“That would open up availability during the school year, and it would certainly make campus more accessible,” Boone said. “I think it would be wonderful, and it would benefit Butler.”

For right now, Schrader said that as Butler’s exposure has risen, so has the need to provide guests and donors with a good experience on campus—starting with where they park.

“You’re trying to cultivate relationships and give donors the best view of Butler you can,” Schrader said. “Struggling to find a parking space might not be the experience you want them to have.”

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