USF asks parking director to leave

Greg Sylvester, director of the Department of Parking and Transportation Services, will not be returning in the fall after receiving a letter of non-renewal of his contract, which is up in August.

The decision comes on the heels of a controversy surrounding one of its employees who was undergoing a sex change from a male to a female.

The non-renewal letter, which was issued on March 19 by Jeff Mack, Director of Auxiliary Services, states that Sylvester will not be re-appointed to his current position as Associate Director of Business and Financial/Auxiliary Services and his employment in that position will end at the close of business on Sept. 19. The letter provides a six-month notice of non-reappointment. On March 22, after receiving the letter, Sylvester was removed from the department.

A few weeks prior to his removal as parking director, Sylvester took “Ann,” whose name has been changed for the purposes of confidentiality, off her bus route and moved her into the customer service department. This was after learning that Ann, 52, used to be a male, but started going through the process of becoming a woman late last year.

In an e-mail to The Oracle on March 1, Sylvester wrote that Ann had come to him with several medical issues that pertained to her abilities as a Bull Runner driver.

The rest of the e-mail stated, “We are awaiting medical documentation and further information, and she will not be driving for Bull Runner until we receive that information and have had the opportunity to make an assessment. It is always our policy to be extra cautious when it comes to the safety of our students and riders on the Bull Runner.”

Ann said in an interview with The Oracle on May 3 that she had gone to Sylvester and immediate supervisor Rick Fallin for support at the end of February, but what she got was something different.

“They thought I was crazy,” Ann said after sitting down with both Sylvester and Fallin and telling them about her decision to become a woman. “I told them it wasn’t an easy decision, but as time passed the more out of place I felt.”

Ann was required to talk to people from several departments on campus, including a psychologist on campus who Ann says told her she was fine.

Ann said she went into work dressed as a woman the Friday after she was moved into customer service. Friday was a casual day, when uniforms are not required to be worn, but Sylvester asked Ann to go home and change into her uniform.

“I was the only one in that room that day wearing a uniform,” Ann said.

The following week, Ann said Sylvester told her that she could not wear make-up or nail polish because in customer service, “We have visitors coming through here.” Ann added that she didn’t think she was dressed inappropriately – just as a woman.

It took about two weeks before Ann could dress like a woman. Ann said Sylvester had to talk to everyone in the department and explain the situation to make sure everyone was OK with it.

“That is all I wanted in the first place,” she said. “I even offered to go around to talk to people. I kept asking Rick how he wanted to do this, but he didn’t know. They were more interested in saving my soul.”

Ann, who now spends 24 hours a day as a woman, added that she also received “religious talks” from her supervisors saying what she was doing was morally wrong.

“I feel that I went to my supervisors looking for support and I didn’t get any,” Ann said. “I got the opposite. I don’t think it is right or should happen to anyone else at the university.”

Complying with everything asked of her, Ann said she found it a coincidence that Sylvester was reassigned only a couple of days after she talked to him.

“I had went and told people in Human Resources that I felt I was working in a hostile work environment because I knew Rick and Greg had problems with what I was doing,” Ann said. She said she did not file any formal paperwork, but has enough information that she could put a lawsuit together.

“I just want all this to be behind me and to be left alone,” she said.

Michelle Carlyon, director of media relations, said the university would not comment on Sylvester’s removal, saying that it will not discuss personnel matters, and would not say if his removal had to do with Ann.

Carlyon added that, according to the non-renewal letter, the decision not to re-appoint him was based on “the determination that a different approach is necessary to better align the department with the university’s organizational and management objectives.”

However, Carlyon could not explain what “different approach” was to be taken.Mack also did not comment on Sylvester or Ann and the new approach that is to be taken for Parking and Transportation Services. Mack referred all employment matters to Carlyon.

According to a copy of Sylvester’s most recent A&P Employee Performance Evaluation for July 1, 2002 to June 20, 2003, Mack, conductor of the evaluation, gave Sylvester’s performance “outstanding” marks, giving no indication that there was a problem with Sylvester’s work.

“During the past year, the PATS operations have had a very successful year under Greg’s leadership. Greg’s experience has been instrumental in the development of the university’s master plan to include a visionary and financially sound parking and transit plan,” part of the evaluation read.

Sylvester started at USF on Aug. 23, 2000, and has steered the university into several key projects, including the building of the second parking garage. Despite being removed as director, Sylvester will still receive the same salary of $85,450 until he leaves.

Sylvester is still listed as director of Parking and Transportation Services on its Web site, but Mack is running the day-to-day operations of the department until there is a search for a new director, Carlyon said.

Carlyon added that there is no timetable for when a national search may take place.According to Carlyon, Sylvester’s duties during the six-month period are associated with special projects that are assigned to him by Mack.

“Some key projects he is still working on are the parking garage and aspects of the parking and transportation budget,” Carlyon said.

As for Ann, she now works in a different department within Parking and Transportation Services and said she is happy.

“Everyone is great and I am treated like one of the girls,” Ann said. “This is the first time in my life I have been happy and coming to terms with this probably saved my life.”