PROFILE: UC Alum Helps Craft UC’s Signature Campus
Senior staff engineer Kurt Ponting is overseeing the completion of MainStreet’s most complex project, plus he has guided volunteers on all three of UC’s partnerships with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity.
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover and Lisa Ventre
Kurt Ponting is one of the managers behind the dramatic transformation of UC’s campus. The College of Applied Science graduate says that in his field, UC provides opportunities that are truly unique. “I’ve been here four years and I’ve worked on two signature-architect buildings,” Ponting says. “It’s rare to be able to do that.”
The senior staff engineer worked one-and-a-half years on the dynamic Campus Recreation Center, the final phase of the MainStreet construction project, after seeing the renovation of Tangeman University Center to completion in 2004.
But when he’s not on the job with construction projects on campus, he’s often volunteering his time and expertise as UC builds connections in the community through the university’s partnership with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity.
Ponting is one of the UC staff members in construction management who has guided UC volunteers on all three projects to build affordable housing for families in Cincinnati’s neighborhoods. He had a full house of volunteers who were painting with future homeowner Megan O’Malley at the construction site in Avondale the weekend of Feb. 4.
“It’s really going smoothly this year. The student volunteers have gained experience on every project and it’s amazing to see what they can do on their own.
“My job at UC involves the management of people who are building these $100 million projects, but on the Habitat site, it’s an entirely different thing. You’re tasked to do the work yourself – it’s entirely your baby – and that’s what’s fun about it, taking ownership.”
“I would say that Kurt’s attitude and energy are the reasons I still participate in the UC/Habitat partnership to this day,” says Michael Schroth, a senior in construction management who started volunteering with UC/Habitat for Humanity through the second construction project on Winkler Street. Schroth now serves as a crew leader on the UC/Habitat site in Avondale. “He motivates us crew leaders to lead new volunteers and build a quality home, and he respects our intelligence and ideas.
“I think Kurt is a great role model in his work, personal life and especially in what he brings to UC/Habitat for Humanity,” Schroth says.
“Kurt joined the UC/Habitat project during the first year, and has increased his role in the project each year,” says Annmarie Thurnquist, UC/Habitat steering committee co-chair and director of renovations for UC Construction Management. “As lead site coordinator, Kurt embodies so many of the goals of UC|21: placing students at the center, creating opportunity, establishing a sense of place within the community. It isn’t surprising that he inspires the students working on the project.”
Ponting graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree in construction management from the College of Applied Science in 1995. He married his Colerain High School sweetheart, Tanya, who graduated in 1993 from the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. The couple lives in Colerain with their three children, Caleb, Luke and Samuel.
As he reflects on his experience with the Campus Recreation Center, a project led by Project Manager Bob Marton and colleague Gary Wilkin, Ponting still looks back on the project with awe. “There are things that we have done here, a detail or shape or geometry that is unique just to this building, and that’s what’s so magnificent about all of our buildings at UC.”
Now that the fitness portion of the Campus Rec Center has opened, Pointing believes the building will be a center of energy and a big hangout for students. “It’s a healthy alternative to meeting and socializing with people versus the bar scene.”
Meanwhile at the UC/Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity construction site, a dedication ceremony is planned for May 13, as the project nears completion and as Megan O’Malley and her kindergarten-aged daughter, Shamia, prepare to move into their new home. Fifth Third Bank has pledged a total of $100,000 toward UC-s three-year partnership with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity. UC commits to the funding to buy construction materials for the projects. In addition to Fifth Third Bank, this year’s project on Haven Street in Avondale is sponsored by the Messer Construction Company, with support from University Dining Services.