Five questions for Roxanna Winslow

Transition Project Manager, University of Colorado Denver
Roxanna Winslow, right, and Mollie Young are transition project managers at the University of Colorado Denver.

Roxanna Winslow, right, and Mollie Young are transition project managers at the University of Colorado Denver.

Moving can be a nightmare. The packing, the labeling, the unburdening. Then comes the unpacking, setting up, getting new phones, keys and access codes, changing mailing addresses. Imagine then, moving not just a few rooms but an entire campus. Imagine doing it for a living. Imagine being Roxanna Winslow.

She wasn't always a "transition project manager." She began working for the university in 1985 as a part-time patient service coordinator in the OB/GYN oncology unit at the University of Colorado Hospital. Over the years, she moved into a variety of administrative jobs, and eight years ago landed in the Office of Institutional Planning.

A colleague, Mollie Young, had been coordinating moves for the university for many years, and shared stories and struggles with Winslow. During their talks, Winslow decided she would enjoy that kind of work. At the time, Young was getting ready to move the former Health Sciences Center to the new Anschutz Medical Campus. Discussions led to an idea. Young certainly needed someone to help with the monumental move and Winslow would be just the right person.

For the past five years, Winslow has worked alongside Young to transition the Ninth and Colorado Campus to Anschutz, and now coordinates other moves at the ever-changing downtown campus.

Each move is a little different, a characteristic that makes the position rewarding. While her "perfect world" personality often was frustrated with move "surprises" early on, Winslow has learned to take things as they come and focus on resolution.

Having experienced employees coordinate moves is a big comfort to the university community, says Winslow. "Moves are very stressful and bring out the best and worst in people. We understand that and the people we move know we are here for them." The Office of Institutional Planning move team has moved more than 10,000 people into 3.5 million gross square feet.

Smooth moves that are planned for the near future: final phases of the Auraria Science Building late this year, the College of Architecture and Planning, the Rocky Mountain Middle School MSP, and vacating a floor in the Lawrence Street Center.

— Cynthia Pasquale

1. You "moved" the entire Ninth and Colorado campus to Anschutz. What did that entail? Did you forget anything?

Moving Ninth and Colorado to the Anschutz Medical Campus actually started with Mollie Young in 1997, moving a department here and a program there to Building 500. The majority of the moves started in June 2004 and were completed in January 2009. Planning begins anywhere from six months to a year before the new space/building is ready to occupy. We have created a streamlined process – what we call the one-stop shop for moves – that includes input from all areas that support the move. We work closely with everyone involved, from project managers to contractors, and guide the department through every aspect of the move, whether it is an office or a high-value equipped research lab. Our campus is extremely diverse in space types, needs, personalities, logistics, schedules, specialty moves, chemicals, irreplaceable research, and each move needs an individual approach.

Did we forget anything? Gee, I hope not! All kidding aside, we never forgot what was to be moved, but I had a couple of departments that either forgot storage space or on occasion a whole group of people! No worries, we went back and picked them up.

2.  You also facilitated the move into the new Science Building. What were some of the headaches or successes associated with that move?

Headache: Moving during the freezing winter break while buildings are locked down and minimal resources are available. We had people locked out everywhere, and I was running back and forth using my access to keep our crews working. Tried Tylenol, but it would not unlock the doors!

Successes: My involvement in this project was a bit unorthodox because it involved three separate institutions – University of Colorado Denver, Community College of Denver and Metropolitan State College. This opportunity allowed me to build relationships with the other institutions and strengthen the relationship with Auraria Higher Education Center staff and policies that impact our UC Denver programs. I gained more knowledge about building connections and services. I feel my greatest success on this project is that I was able to be the point of contact for the various contractors and consultants working on this building. That took a big load off the end users and allowed me to advocate on their behalf.

3. What do you enjoy doing in your off time?

I am officially a "Twilighter." I just read (OK, it was an audiobook) the series and am now awaiting the movie releases. I love the fantasy in a real world setting and the modern day Romeo and Juliet story. I enjoy knitting, exercising, dancing, fishing and taking care of my three dogs, Oscar, Ralphie and Floyd. It really is all about them at home. My big passion is animals!

4. What accomplishment are you most proud of? If there was one thing you could change about your life, what would it be?

I am very proud and honored to have been a part of the historic event of moving an entire campus, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Office of Institutional Planning played a key role in the vision and future of this campus and we all worked very hard to make this vision a reality. I am very proud to be part of our work here.

If I were to change anything, I think I would pursue a degree in law – investigation or enforcement – so that I could contribute to the betterment of our streets, cities, states and nation. So many bad things happen in our society today and I would love to be in a position to legally fight for those who cannot.

5. Who are your heroes or mentors? 

Earle Bingley, Rebecca Aldworth, Francois Hugo are my heroes. All are animal advocates who live their life to speak for those who cannot.Â

Personal mentors: My mother, who always gave of herself to make a better life for me. She taught me the meaning of sacrifice. My husband, Dan, who is always supportive of me and is still trying to teach me patience. Good luck, Dan!

Professional mentors: Mollie Young, who introduced me to the world of relocation and taught me how to "move people." Jerry Scezney (chief planning officer) who always supports and provides what we need to do our job successfully!

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