After 30 years of service under the steady blue wings of the United States Air Force, Dave Maharrey has landed in Baton Rouge, and he wants this nest to be permanent.
The new associate executive director of Facility and Utility Operations just started working Aug. 1, and he has already successfully weathered what many in the utility field would consider a nightmare — a hurricane.
The retired colonel didn’t sweat it though, noting that Hurricane Isaac allowed the University to save money on energy, since it shut off power where it wasn’t necessary during the University’s three-day closure.
But when hurricanes aren’t blowing through, maintaining the University’s aging infrastructure provides plenty of challenges on a day-to-day basis.
“One of [the] things we’re always looking to do is find ways to reduce our energy consumption,” Maharrey said. “But the main thing is to provide the platform for education to take place.”
He likened the University to a stage, and as long as that stage stays lit, cooled (or heated) and upright, he’s doing his job.
“I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. That’s why I joined the Air Force,” he said. “We’re hopefully helping future folks move in and do great things.”
Having never crossed the Mississippi River as an 18-year- old from London, Ohio, Maharrey took off to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering four years later.
“First time in a jet aircraft was when I got on the plane to go,” he said.
Thirty years, a couple of wars and a handful of countries later, the 48-year-old says the most valuable skill he learned while working as a facility manager on USAF bases was the ability to work with all kinds of people.
“An Air Force base is just like a campus once you take away the runway,” he said, comparing the needs of pilots, maintenance and hospital staffs to the different branches of University staffs.
Tony Lombardo, executive director of Facility Services, also said there are many similarities between managing the facilities of an Air Force base and a university.
“If you look at facility officers across the SEC, at least half, if not 70 percent, are retired military officers,” Lombardo said.
Both Maharrey and his wife, Judy, have enjoyed the transition and hope their five children will finally be able to come visit them, rather than the other way around.
“The longest I’ve ever lived anywhere [since college] was four years,” Maharrey said.
His wife of 14 years offered one word to describe her husband — “loyal.”
The only times she’s lived without him were during his two deployments to Iraq in 2004 and 2007, where he said the only difference was operating under more focused conditions.
“You just have to adapt and pick up the slack and carry on,” his wife said. “You have to keep going.”