Staff Spotlight Spring 2018: Michael Harding, University Advancement
In our newest segment of our quarterly newsletter, Staff Council will highlight a different staff member every issue! For our very first spotlight feature, we interviewed Mike Harding, Assistant Director of Corporate Relations. A big thank you to Mike for his time!
“Look out. Monday morning coming at ya fast.” That’s what you might hear as Mike Harding enters the office and it instantly puts a smile on your face. If you catch Mike between his numerous meetings and corporate visits, he will be delighted to make your acquaintance. Mike knows no strangers.
Assistant Director of Corporate Relations in University Advancement, Mike helps to develop mutually beneficial partnerships between the university and companies of all sizes, focusing on support of strategic campus priorities. Mike joined the university in January 2017, and in just over a year, he has helped to break down silos and connect the numerous schools, departments and centers across campus to enable them to work more effectively together. In 2017, more than 200 companies donated over $30 million in support of hundreds of research projects for faculty and graduate students and undergraduate student projects and activities.
Previously, Mike worked at BNY Mellon in Trade Communications and as a Campus Relations Recruiter. He has his BA in Business from Washington & Jefferson College, an MBA from Point Park University, and is working on his PhD in Community Engagement and Leadership. Below are the answers he provided to our questions.
What were you like as a child?
This is funny to think about, but I was the kid who collected rocks and regurgitated every useless fact known to man. Was always up to get a laugh from someone in my family. My mom and dad are each 1 of 5 [siblings], so lots of people to entertain.
What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
Depends on the day, but in the mornings I usually start thinking about how I want to map my day as I jam out to the latest top 40, or throwback jams. I also use that as my me time and think about what else is on the docket!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Good question. I will forever have an affinity for people and learning their stories and then connecting them to others…so for now I am scratching that itch, but who knows. Maybe someday a professor at a small liberal arts college who leads every class with “did I ever tell you about the time….”
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
Name the day, I like to think of my life as a sitcom most days. You have to laugh or you’re dead. I think there is humor in most things and like to always be looking for that. However, most recently I was at Target (if I ever go missing, check Target first), and was purchasing a patio chair. It was the last one to complete my set and I was pumped it was on clearance. I put it in the cart and checked out, then things took a turn. I went to put my cart on the cart conveyer (East Liberty, I’m looking at you) and then suddenly realized, the chair was too high for the solid metal beam over the cart belt. Frantically, I tried to pull back the cart, but it was a goner. The belt pulled the cart forward, the chair started violently colliding with the metal beam, and next thing you know a loud alarm sounded and the belt stopped. I panicked, ready to bag the whole thing as security approached. They laughed, reversed the belt and I then grabbed my newly mangled chair and took off, but not before a mother of three shouted ‘dumba**’ from the lower atrium as her buggy was held captive mid-way down the conveyer and had to wait for this episode to conclude…all in a normal day.
What inspires you?
People doing good work, working really hard. I love when people find a way to put their passion to purpose and if I can have any ability to help facilitate or support that, it really inspires me. Beverly’s Birthdays is where I spend a lot of my free time and it truly does inspire me to see your efforts translate into smiles or feelings of joy. Laughter is a currency that you never have to pay for.