If Rick McAuslin has any juicy stories from his 25 years as UNF's locksmith, he's not telling. "Discrete" only begins to describe McAuslin, who avoids the higher-ups-getting-locked-out and the people-where-they-shouldn't-be questions with a blush and nervous laugh.
"We do get involved in certain situations but it would be better not to discuss what occurs," McAuslin demurs.
When he came to UNF at the age of 21, McAuslin was working construction, but the lackof security concerned him. He decided to explore other possibilities. "The University was advertising on T.V. for all different kinds of positions," he said. "I knew I wanted some benefits, and having a retirement plan was one of my main goals."
Because he wasn't a trained locksmith when he was hired, McAuslin worked for the first year under a 5 percent reduction from his base pay. During his apprenticeship with Director of Communications Larry Davis, the University sent him to courses from lock manufacturers like Sargent. He also pitched in with projects all over campus.
"Back in the early days, you did everything -- installed locks, poured concrete, put in irrigation lines. They had an amazing thing in your job description called 'other duties as assigned.' That meant everything," he laughed. "But everybody did that. It didn't matter what your position was. They needed you and that's where you went."
Locks have changed since McAuslin began at UNF, but he mastered each innovation without complaint. "Twenty-five years ago, I never thought I'd be working with computers but that's the future," he said. "If you don't keep up with it, you'll be left behind."
The school's current sophisticated keying system, Intellikey, uses computer chips, so changing a lock no longer involves installing a new cylinder. In addition, by using a special key called an audit key, McAuslin (or University Police) can identify the last 250 people to try their key in a lock, along with the date and time they were there. By plugging a laptop computer into the lock, they can know who the last 1,200 people were to attempt entry.
McAuslin enjoys the work, although he is glad that the dorms' locks are now handled more independently of his office. He refuses most details of the "pennying story," the "pushbutton story," or the "superglue story." But he does recall a few pre-dawn trips to help students get back in their rooms, and the time an entire dorm had to be rekeyed three times in six weeks due to loss of keys.
But one reason he enjoys being at UNF, he said, is the variety. "There's always something going on. The people change, the students change. We're inside, we're outside," he said. "With all the building and renovation, it's not boring."