By Whitney Jones, News Editor
Behind the hustle of campus life in the dorms and note-taking in classrooms is a man who stays in the background orchestrating the finances that make Union run smoothly.
Gary Carter, senior vice president of business services, and others under his leadership touch every part of campus and have worked on projects ranging from creating the Barefoots Joe roastery near Luther Hall to rebuilding Union after the 2008 tornado.
Carter’s behind-the-scenes work has such an impact on the university that Dr. David S. Dockery, university president, called him “the hero of this campus” to an auditorium filled with student leaders at his semi-annual student senate visit.
In addition to working with building plans, Carter has balanced the financial end of the university for more than 20 years. He handles payroll, the overall budget and human resources, which can be seen by the mountains of paperwork spread across his desk.
But Carter prefers to remain in the background and praises his colleagues for the work they do to keep the university financially healthy. At a time of economic uncertainty, Union has added new programs and hired new faculty.
“(Union is) healthy, but it took some intentional strategic planning to maintain that health even through the downturn in the economy,” he said. “It’s not me, it’s our team.”
Beyond Union’s administration, Carter works most regularly with David McBride, director of facilities management.
McBride has run facilities under Carter’s leadership for almost 17 years and said he “has never worked with anyone better.”
Carter said he has enjoyed seeing the campus transform during his years at Union and is thankful for the many partners he has worked with who made the construction happen.
“It is so rewarding to be involved in getting from the first piece of paper and the first lines that are drawn and getting involved … What I view myself as more is facilitating getting accomplished what their vision and dreams are for the facilities,” Carter said.
While Carter said he enjoys helping faculty and staff dreams come true, he admitted that with his job comes some stress with the knowledge that people’s livelihoods rely on him because business services is in charge of distributing paychecks.
Carter’s connection to the university goes farther back than when he stepped into his office behind Union Station.
He graduated from Union in 1975 and has two alumnae daughters whose faces grace his walls and bookshelves in photos throughout his office.
Before returning to Union as an employee, Carter was a certified public accountant at a large firm, a job he thought he would always do, Carter said.
But after a phone call from Dr. Hyran Barefoot, former university president, and much prayer, Carter said he felt compelled to return and said he has continued to be “incredibly blessed” throughout his time at Union.