Energy conservation and history preservation are deeply rooted in Reid Conway, senior energy manager at Western Carolina University.
Conway was hired into the new role in June and while this was his first official position at WCU, he had been consulting with the university for years during his time at the North Carolina State Energy Office. Conway’s family history with WCU goes back even farther, to the early 1920s, when his great-grandfather W.D. Wike helped procure the land to build WCU, then known as Western Carolina Teacher’s College, and also served on the school’s Board of Trustees.
“It really is a full circle moment,” said Conway. “I hope that I am making my relatives proud with what I am doing at WCU to help the university with energy management and make the classrooms a comfortable learning environment for the students.”
Not only has Conway had relatives serve in various roles at the university, his mother, grandmother and uncles lived on campus while Conway’s grandfather served in WWII. The family lived in an apartment in what was then known as Davies Hall next to Robert Madison, one of the founders of WCU and two-time president and professor.
“We would wait for Mr. Madison to come back from teaching class and he always had a paper bag of penny candy for us,” said Anna Ruth Conway, Reid Conway’s mother.
Today, Conway and his wife Julie are the remaining Wike lineage to work at the university, but the effects of the family’s contributions can be seen and felt to this day. Walking where his family members once did, it is Conway’s mission to make WCU as energy efficient as possible and keep the position of being one of the highest-ranking schools in the University of North Carolina System for energy conservation.
In addition to the long history at WCU, Conway has been an energy guru for decades and served as the deputy director at the Tennessee State Energy Office before working in North Carolina. Conway also taught in the North Carolina State Energy Management Diploma Series in Raleigh. Finally, Conway made his way “home” to WCU.
“We are trying to reduce our carbon footprint,” Conway said. “So, by me getting out in front of students, faculty, staff and the greater community, I hope to be able to share the importance of what we are doing at WCU, like removing unused meters, temperature control in buildings, encouraging turning off lights in unoccupied rooms and being conscious of the amount of energy used each day, all of the little things add up to help our environment and therefore our spending on utilities.”