Presidential Award of Excellence - Stephen Pesci
By Kristin Duisberg
September 30, 2009
Photo: Lisa Nugent, Photo Services
If you’ve taken a Wildcat Transit bus or the Campus Connector shuttle lately, ridden the Amtrak Downeaster to Durham, or pedaled your bike the length of Main Street, there’s one person you can thank for the ease of your trip: Campus Planning’s Steve Pesci.
Since 2001, Pesci has been the “heart and soul” of UNH’s transportation demand management strategy, working to both expand and make more sustainable the University’s transportation system. The results of Pesci’s hard work—1.1 million clean-energy transit trips in 2008 alone, at a savings of some 4 million vehicle miles—mean a better quality of life for the University and for the entire Seacoast region.
Pesci came to Durham from suburban Philadelphia in the early 1980s as a UNH undergraduate—and never left. “I was taken by how beautiful this place was,” he says. “I knew I wanted to stay.”
Pesci’s love of the university’s aesthetics and the sense of community he found here is the inspiration for his work. After graduating with a degree in community development, he worked locally in a variety of regional planning roles, returning to campus part time to earn a master’s degree in public administration. In 2001, he was asked to help solve UNH’s parking problem, an issue he saw in a much larger context: an overall transportation problem. “To me, the answers are always about doing the things that are right for the community—increasing public transportation, making spaces safer and more accessible.”
In addition to being cleaner and larger, UNH’s transportation system is better funded than it was eight years ago, thanks to the nearly $11 million in federal grants that Pesci helped UNH obtain. Pesci says he’s merely helped facilitate achievements that were already in the University’s grasp, but UNH Associate Director of Sustainability Sara Cleaves sees his role as more central. “Steve brings a passion and a vision to what he does that goes above and beyond,” she says. “His commitment to sustainability improves UNH’s quality of life at every level.”