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Profile: Jim Tucker
Date: May 15, 2000

UC's "Million Dollar Man:" Jim Tucker, associate vice president for administrative services

Jim Tucker Personal history
Grew up in Groesbeck, graduated from LaSalle High School in 1975 and now lives in West Chester

Professional history
Started working for the university in 1977 as a parking attendant and then worked his way up as a grounds supervisor, building supervisor, manager of parking services, director of parking services, director of facilities and now, associate vice president for administrative services. Along the way, Tucker earned a 1983 degree in management, a 1984 marketing degree and a 1985 computer science degree...and even an MBA from another university.

What makes UC distinctive for you
The people and the relationships. A lot of people here really care about the place. They commit and stay for years. You don't find that in corporate America. The people make it fun.

How would you describe UC
A place with plenty of opportunity if you're willing to look for it and work.

Other interests outside of UC
White-water rafting, mountain biking, tennis, racquetball and golf. I also like to hike and horseback ride in the national parks. I've been to all 50 states and a few other countries doing that.

Professional achievements
Tucker's innovations have meant millions for the university and top honors in his field.

Most recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded UC summa cum laude status in its Energy Star Buildings Partnership program. Tucker esimates that UC saves $8 million a year because of investments in more efficient equipment, from UC's large utility plants to the lights installed in offices and classrooms. Energy savings also has a huge impact on the environment. There has been a 68.5 percent drop in the amount of pollutants released each year or a drop of 70 million pounds of pollutants.

Previously, Tucker traveled to Los Angeles to receive the 1999 Facility Management Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Facility Management Profession, the highest award the International Facility Management Association gives to an individual. In addition, he traveled to Atlanta to receive the highest award that goes to an individual, the Energy Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Energy Engineers.

"Our past awards (in administrative services) have all been departmental awards. These were the first individual awards I've received," said Tucker. "I'd rather be low-key, to downplay them; however, we also want to pursue national preeminence at UC because everyone wants to be on a winning team. It contributes to our pride and performance."

Tucker and his department have saved money in other ways. For instance, Tucker negotiated a contract with Cinergy in the fall of 1998 in which he pledged that the university would not operate its own electric power generator (the university is now designing its own generator) for the next three years. In return, Cinergy is paying the university $3.3 million over three years time. In fact, Tucker received the first check for $275,000 from the utility provider Oct. 6, 1999. And how will administrative services use the money?

"Because of deregulation of the electric industry, we are, indeed, building our own electric plant over on east campus using the Cinergy funds. Right now, Cinergy is our sole source for electric power, but after our current agreement with them ends, we'll have our own generator to serve the university during peak times. This will probably save us $1 million a year when the time comes," Tucker explained.

Providing electricity savings is a top priority as, not surprisingly, electricity is the university's largest energy expense, coming at a price tag of about $12 million annually. For instance, electricity powers the enormous water chillers used for air conditioning all of UC's east and west campus buildings. The load they bear is like cooling 50 million houses with a one-ton AC window unit, according to Tucker.

To reduce such costs, administrative services makes use of thermal storage of chilled water. It is cooled at night when rates are cheaper and released during the day. In addition, natural gas (a cheaper fuel source than electricity) is also used to chill water for air conditioning. Such measures, along with computerized automation of lighting and temperature controls in UC buildings, have saved UC up to $3 million in energy costs in the last few years.

The prestigious professional attention awarded to Tucker is, by no means, the first national recognition given to administrative services for its energy efficient innovations. Past awards for the department include a 1997 Governor's Award for Excellence in Energy Efficiency as well as a 1997 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency award which singled UC out from among a field of 3,500 other colleges and universities.