Staff Spotlight: Pete Schaack
Director of Facility Operations
If anyone was destined to work in the recreation sector, Pete Schaack would fit the bill. This Arizona native was born in a two-room hospital located at Grand Canyon National Park and grew up on the grounds of our nation’s park system where his father served in various roles for the National Park Service.
Being surrounded by the beauty of this national treasure, Pete developed an appreciation for the outdoors, foreshadowing a career in collegiate outdoor recreation. While an undergraduate at Iowa State University, he worked part-time in the Outdoor Recreation program handling equipment rental and maintenance, leading workshops and supervising outdoor trips.
As a graduate assistant he stepped up his responsibilities, planning trips and workshops, supervising employees and processing payroll. His supervisor and mentor, Scott White, who at the time served as manager of the Outdoor Recreation program and who eventually rose to the ranks of associate director in the Department of Recreation Services at Iowa State, vividly recalls Pete as a student.
“Pete had a great combination of outdoor rec hard skills coupled with top-rate people skills. He could communicate and get along with anyone….He did an excellent job of teaching and mentoring younger, newer outdoor rec staff members.”
He says, “Pete had a great combination of outdoor rec hard skills coupled with top-rate people skills. He could communicate and get along with anyone….He did an excellent job of teaching and mentoring younger, newer outdoor rec staff members.”
In the summer of 1987, fresh out of graduate school, Pete relocated to Austin to accept the position of recreational sports specialist for Outdoor Recreation at UT RecSports.
“Pete had an immediate impact on the program.”
“Pete had an immediate impact on the program,” says Eric Stoutner, former senior staff member of UT RecSports, noting that Pete introduced new trip locations, expanded the inventory of available equipment and increased the number of participants.
He added, “Pete also soon became a valued member of the administrative staff and was called upon to assist with an array of different projects and events. Others soon came to value Pete for his many skills, stellar work ethic and team-player qualities.”
“Others soon came to value Pete for his many skills, stellar work ethic and team-player qualities.”
In time Pete’s career with RecSports grew in breadth and scope, most significantly in the mid-1990s when his responsibilities shifted to Facility Operations. He had found his true calling, utilizing his strong organizational and problem-solving skills with a series of building renovation projects.
The first major one he was called upon to manage, the renovation of Gregory Gym that began in 1995, allowed him to emerge as one of RecSports’ most trusted and respected staff members. One of the main architects entrusted with the project, Anita Moran, recalls how Pete remained on site with the contractor almost continuously and “the results were astonishing.” She added, “The building is still in pristine condition, much of that is due to Pete’s diligence. He knows every square inch of the building, the size of every pipe and condition of every surface.”
While buildings may be a focus of Pete’s responsibilities, he remains mindful of the students who frequent the facilities. Moran made note that “Pete’s attitude is that his work is all about the students and providing them with the best facilities to support programming and services so that they will continue to participate in RecSports and become an integral part of the UT community.”
In the years following the Gregory Gym renovation, Pete’s professional evolution continued to rise as he was promoted to an associate director position. As a senior staff member, he played a leadership role in the Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex project and served as primary point of contact on the projects to renovate Clark Field and Whitaker Field.
These are but a few of his legacies and ones that anyone would hold with great satisfaction and pride. And assuredly, many more projects are still to come and will benefit from Pete’s expert guidance.
Pete is currently a senior staff member and is responsible for the overall management of Facility Operations to include organizational structure, budgets, business practices, assessments, goals and objectives, initiatives, publications, policies and procedures, strategic planning, personnel and special projects. He has been with Recreational Sports since August 1987.