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Scott Charmack, Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Walter Pyramid, University Library

By Joanne Shaw

Scott Charmack photo by Victoria Sanchez; architecture photos by David J. Nelson

If you have ever cheered the 49ers basketball team in the Mike and Arline Walter Pyramid, know that Scott Charmack helped make the thrilling experience possible. 

If you have visited the University Library in the last 20 years, the extraordinary learning environments and creature comforts that you enjoyed there were in large part due to Scott Charmack. 

If you have ever attended a performance at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, taught in the Molecular and Life Sciences Center, parked in a campus structure or applauded CSULB’s outstanding energy conservation efforts, you have been touched by the talents and dedicated service of Scott Charmack.

Beginning his long association with CSULB as an industrial management student in 1968, Charmack worked for 35 years on the campus, first in what was then known as the Budget Office and later in Facilities Management. His numerous contributions to this institution—especially his innovative ideas about how to save energy, collaborate with representatives of other California State Universities, and manage construction and design projects—are awe inspiring.

Ironically, his initial career plan was to work for the university for two years and then enter the private sector. “I graduated in 1972 in the midst of a recession, and I needed a job,” said Charmack. “I applied for a new position in the Budget Office at CSULB and got the job. I thought after two years the recession would be over, and I would move on to corporate America.”

That did not happen. For about five years, he was the university’s first energy coordinator. At a time when the U.S. was experiencing an energy crisis, he embarked on numerous projects that would conserve energy, be environmentally friendly and save money. One such project involved a then new idea, intrusion technology. “I reasoned that if we had the technology to determine when an intruder entered the room, we could have the technology to automatically turn off the lights when nobody was in a room,” recalled Charmack.

“So, I called on some people with a private company. They loved the idea, and their representatives began working with me and a campus electrician to install the first-ever motion sensor,” Charmack added. It was the first applica- tion of motion sensing technology to control room lighting.

“We had to rig the prototype with tape, stand still, then walk, then chart where the sensor would reach,” Charmack said. The process was long and laborious, and they learned through much trial and error that some classrooms required multiple sensors. “We also had to overcome a few other problems,” Charmack continued. “We had to figure out a way to turn out the lights when the professor wanted to show a film.”

Charmack was lured away from CSULB by Cal State Dominguez Hills, where he was director of plant operations. “After three years there, I decided to return home and took a job in Facilities Management,” said Charmack. He became the associate vice president of Physical Planning and Facilities Management. 

From 1980 until his retirement in 2008, Charmack handily managed explosive growth on campus; brought together staff members from three other CSUs to draw up plans for an integrated maintenance management system, which drew the attention of facilities personnel from around the world; and raised two daughters with his wife JoAnne.

He credits his career success to the education he received at Cal State Long Beach and the wonderful staff members and executives that he worked with throughout his years on campus. “I would highly recommend Long Beach State to anyone,” Charmack commented. “It’s a great campus, has a great location and provides students with very good programs. I have retired, but I’ll still be around campus, especially to visit the Student Wellness and Recreation Center.”

Charmack’s contributions to the aesthetic, energy efficient and comfortable learning environments at CSULB positively influenced tens of thousands of students. Regardless the number of projects he had to juggle, no matter the obstacles he had to overcome, his goal was to give all 49ers a campus where they could succeed.