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The anatomy of an event

By: Bob Browand 

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the effects that campus events have on UH parking and transportation.  One of the most common comments we receive is that faculty, staff and students receive no benefit from the event, yet their ability to park on campus is affected. Also, there is a misconception that Parking and Transportation Services is responsible for the closing of parking lots and the displacement of parkers during these events. Read on to learn exactly how it all works.

Types of events

Being a public institution, our campus is opened to both internal and external events. Campus events can be broken down into several categories each with its own set of criteria and approval requirements.

  • University-wide events such as commencement and March for Babies are managed by the University’s Office of Special Events.
  • Outdoor events and events at the UH Student Center are managed by the Student Centers Event Services Office.
  • Events at athletic facilities are co-managed by UH Athletics and UH Sports and Entertainment.
  • Events at the University Hilton Hotel are managed by the Hilton.
  • Events at the individual colleges and departments are managed by that unit.

Approval process

In order for an event to take place on campus, it must have a UH sponsor.   The UH sponsor must submit an event request to the managing unit.  For larger events the request should be sent to various campus departments to determine if the University can support the event.  This includes departments such as Food Service, UHDPS and the Fire Marshal’s office, UH Facilities and, yes, Parking and Transportation Services.

Although Parking and Transportation Services is part of the process, we cannot deny an event from taking place. Once an event is approved, our role is to assist the event organizer and other UH supporting units in developing an orderly parking and transportation plan that minimizes the impact on the campus’s parking and transportation infrastructure.  

Campus benefits

While it may not seem that the University’s decision to host a particular event provides any specific return or advantage to you or the campus community, there are actually several instances where both academic and general campus life benefit. To better illustrate that, here are a few examples of common events held on campus and how they positively impact the University.

  • General - All events bring people to the University, which gives us an opportunity to not only introduce our great institution as a whole to these attendees, many of whom have never been on campus before, but also market and seek support for various University programs.
  • Academic - Many of our smaller events, such as lectures and readings, support the academic goals of numerous colleges within the University.  
  • Athletics/Arts - Sporting events, theatrical shows, concerts and more not only bring people to campus but also provide a revenue source to help support the programs of the college or department that’s hosting the function.  It also gives our students a stage in which to practice and present the very skills and talents they are working hard to perfect while in school.
  • Community - The University holds many community events, including fundraising walks and runs. These help raise money for area charities, while also helping the University, an active supporter of the Houston metropolitan area, maintain its commitment to the local community. 
  • Student-run - A large number of events are led by student organizations.  Although most of these are smaller in nature, a few, such as Frontier Fiesta, draw large numbers of attendees from the surrounding community, which gives us a chance to showcase our impressive student body and raise scholarship funds for deserving UH students. Plus the student leaders gain valuable, real-world experience throughout the event planning process.
  • National - National events such as the Republican Presidential debate and ESPN’s College Gameday put UH in the spotlight and give us the opportunity to show the nation what a Powerhouse the University of Houston really is.

Big picture

So, the next time you hear of an event taking place on campus, think past the short-term inconvenience it may cause and remember that in the long run University programs, faculty, staff, students and even the local community are receiving well-deserved support and recognition on a local and sometimes national level.

If you are planning an event on campus, make sure you contact us at as early as possible, so we can assist you in your parking and transportation needs.

Also, if you have any other questions related to this or any other UH Parking and Transportation concern, please join us for a live tweet session with yours truly on Thursday, Mar. 10 from noon until 1 p.m. All you have to do is #AskUHParking and we'll respond! 

published: Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2016