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It's My Job

Jeremy White Jeremy White, who considers himself "a consummate generalist," followed a circuitous route to the position he's occupied at Berkeley for four-and-a-half years: He studied film at the University of Texas, and also has worked in computer programming, web design and development, and database management. Now he's charged with ensuring that the mobility-challenged can navigate the campus safely and relatively easily. (Wendy Edelstein photo)

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Jeremy White Program Manager, Physical Access Compliance

05 February 2009

What attracted you to this job?

I wanted to get into architectural design and planning, though I'm not an architect. This was a good opportunity.

What are your responsibilities?

My job is to see the landscape from the perspective of a user, student, or visitor to campus, and figure out how they can get around. I manage a long-term program to upgrade existing facilities, since most of the buildings on campus have been around for 100 years and are of historical architectural relevance.

What does that work involve?

I determine which projects are most crucial to address in a given year. We've done a lot of work recently campuswide to get rid of hazards and barriers on pathways.

Do you have other tasks?

I manage all of the campus's accessibility-related data. We've collected so much data over the years that I can describe almost every floor of every building.

What are the campus's accessibility challenges?

We have old buildings and very steep topography. There are grades of more than 20 degrees in some places. How do you get a person on Oxford Street coming from BART up to Cory Hall on the northeast corner of campus?

What is a successful project you've managed?

The Greek Theatre drop-off. Some people coming to graduation including elderly folk were unable to get up the hill to the entrance and there was no parking lot for them. We designed a solution allowing them to be dropped off. It wasn't a challenging project from a design perspective, but it served an immediate need in an area where there's an extremely steep gradient that makes accessibility very difficult.

How do you make the campus navigable for people with disabilities?

We remediate pathways, change out curb ramps, fix slopes and potholes, and work with Facilities and Spatial Data Integration to create access maps visitors can reference before coming to a given facility on campus.

What do you like best about your job?

I like the variety of projects I work on and the challenges posed by the campus's topography. If I were working at Ohio State where everything is flat, it would really be not that interesting.