Director of parking knows how it feels to be a Cane

The parking and transportation department is not the enemy.

In fact, Richard Sobaram, the head of the department, is understanding of students because he was once a University of Miami student- a student who received multiple parking tickets.

Sobaram first came to UM in 1987 to study criminology. He returned to UM 2007 to join the executive MBA program. During all his time at UM, Sobaram worked for the student affairs office on campus.

Patricia Whitely, vice president of student affairs, has known Sobaram for almost 20 years. She has seen him progress from an undergraduate security assistant to the director of parking and transportation.

“Richard, in my opinion, is a terrific administrator,” Whitely said. “He is a consummate professional and always gives 100 percent to all endeavors. He is one of our unsung heroes at UM.”

As an undergrad, Sobaram worked in the Office of the Ombudsperson, serving as a mediator between students with complaints and the school. He said the job taught him how to work with various departments on campus as well as students to make sure conflicts were resolved.

Those lessons have stayed with him over the years.

“He embraces creative problem solving and always tries to involve students in his deliberations,” Whitely said.

In the spring of 2008, before finishing the MBA program, he was promoted to the director of parking.

Being a former student has helped Sobaram make changes in the parking department based on his experiences. He now hands out maps at the beginning of the year along with parking passes to show the students the various changes and gives tips on the backs of warnings so students are aware.

“I have tried to focus more on educating the students on how to avoid getting tickets,” Sobaram said. “I don’t want them to have to pay to learn.”

Sobaram said he loves working with students.

“I get satisfaction from working with students because I know I see results.” Sobaram said. “At UM, students have a chance to grow, not just earn degrees.”

His department is responsible for about 9,500 spaces on campus and about 9,000 students, faculty and staff members who pay for parking passes.

To avoid getting tickets, Sobaram recommends students take the time to plan parking into their schedule like they do classes. He suggests that they look at the time their classes are and be realistic on what the parking availability will be then.

“Is it reasonable to think that around 11 the Communication School lot will be completely open?” Sobaram said, knowing the obvious answer because he was once a student searching for a spot to park in before class.

Sasha Blaney may be contacted at