Bill Pierce loves to travel. Always has. It’s one of the reasons he was ecstatic about joining SunGuard Workflow Solutions as a senior systems analyst after graduating from UAB in 1998.
Bill Pierce is March’s Employee of the Month. Know someone who should be considered for the award? Send correspondence to Jason Turner at email@example.com or via campus mail to AB-360. You also can nominate through the Employee of the Month Web site at www.uab.edu/eotm.
“I was one of Delta’s frequent flyers,” he says. “Avis always was upgrading me to Cadillacs, which was pretty nice.”
Now in his second career as UAB’s assistant director of Campus Recreation for Outdoor Pursuits and Climbing Wall, Pierce continues to travel the country, just not quite as frequently. And instead of racking up frequent flyer miles or driving Cadillacs, he’s ferrying faculty, staff and students across the country in vans for the popular Outdoor Pursuits program. His colleagues laud his passion, his effervescent personality and his ability to lead others, and those qualities led to Pierce’s selection as March’s Employee of the Month.
Brian Cooper, director of Campus Recreation, says the enthusiasm Pierce brings to his position affects the Campus Recreation Center staff daily.
“Bill’s passion for the job is so contagious that we all stop in his office each morning to get our daily boost of energy,” Cooper says. “The relationships he builds with employees and participants in the UAB Trip Series are ones we all envy.”
Pierce has been building those relationships at UAB for more than 15 years. It was 1991 when Pierce, then a UAB student, began to take charge of the outdoor adventure program. A year later he was the main trip leader, and by 1995 the program was wholly his.
He earned his computer science degree in 1998 and continued to run the trip program despite getting a full-time job with SunGuard. He intended to give the position up, but every time he tried, he just couldn’t do it.
“My goal always was to train a student to lead the trips, and I trained a student and he was really good; but then he graduated,” he says. “I knew if I left and he graduated, the program would die. I just couldn’t leave it.”
The scenario replayed again a few years later, prompting Pierce to leave his SunGuard sales position and join UAB full time when his position was created.
“I was traveling all the time and away from my family,” he says. “They weren’t getting the attention they needed. Working here affords me that opportunity, plus, I love it here at UAB. I’m getting to do what I love. It’s my job to develop students and see them go.”
Pierce tirelessly markets his trips to faculty, staff and students. Whether it’s canoeing the Blackwater River in Florida, hiking on the Appalachian Trial, snow skiing in Colorado, touring in Waterton-Glacier Lakes International Peace Park in Canada or driving across country to the Grand Canyon for five days of hiking, Pierce still is getting to travel and teach others about the outdoors.
His ability to connect with trip participants is uncanny, says Jason Powers, associate director of programs for Campus Recreation. “Bill’s No. 1 priority is to provide a positive outdoor experience to everyone who partakes in his trip offerings,” Powers says. “Bill has a great understanding of how effectively to instruct, guide and communicate to the very diverse participant he encounters.”
Pierce’s Outdoor Pursuits program has a significant international contingency. And, it’s not uncommon to see participants ranging in age from 18 to 60.
“This variety in age and language barriers could create a significant challenge to integrate the group, but not with Bill,” Powers says. “He is terrific at finding subtle ways to make every member of a group feel important.”
Pierce has plenty of stories about his trips. His favorite is the backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon, particularly when international students go. The two-and-a-half day drive across the country amazes them, he says. And seeing the Grand Canyon leaves them in awe.
“It’s great to spend five days backpacking and hear them say, ‘It just gets prettier the deeper you go.’”
Visit the Web site to learn more about Outdoor Pursuits, including information on the climbing wall in the Campus Rec Center.