Five Questions with Tom Laney
Tom Laney needs more travel and less yard work.
Name: Tom Laney
Position: Classroom media specialist, AV Services
Time at the Gillings School: About 17 years
What I do at UNC Gillings (and why I love it): My main job duties include coordinating the AV Services office, providing special event and classroom technology support, and assisting faculty, staff and students with remote conferencing. I also do video production and editing for the School when needed.
I really like the fact that my work is different day-to-day. I enjoy multitasking and having a variety of things to focus on. My job keeps me moving around quite a bit and it requires constant learning to stay up-to-date with ever-changing technology. I like the physical space of the School, too. With Armfield Atrium and all of the courtyards and green spaces, plus the larger UNC campus, it’s a beautiful work environment. My favorite thing about the Gillings School, though, is the people I work with. Everyone says that, but it’s true! It’s nice to collaborate with people who I consider to be good friends. It’s also cool to get to know so many dedicated students and watch them progress into their professional careers.
Outside of work: I’ve always had an interest in making videos and short films, so I do some of that in my spare time. I used to co-direct a local film festival called the Hi Mom! Film Fest. I also enjoy going out to see live music. I play a little guitar and bass guitar, and I’ve been in a band with some friends for almost 25 years. We never try to learn songs — it’s all free-form improvisation. We just like making noise for the fun of it.
I love playing ping pong, too. I play every Monday night at the Haw River Ballroom’s community ping pong night. What else? I’ve been a diehard Carolina basketball fan since I was a little kid, so I love following the Heels. I enjoy traveling and seeing new places. I spend way too much time doing yard work. My family lives on a ten-acre plot near Saxapahaw. It’s a ton of work to mow, mulch and weed it all, but it’s really lovely out there. We get to see blue herons, deer, hawks and other wildlife on a regular basis. It almost makes up for the amount of yard work!
My family: includes myself, my wife Jamie and our 16-year-old son, Mason. Jamie is a talented encaustic artist. (You can see her paintings at www.jamiemcphail.com.) She also is a bartender at Orange County Social Club in Carrboro. Mason recently was accepted to attend the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, and he will be a residential student there starting in August. We are proud parents and super excited for him, but it will be a little bit traumatic to suddenly be empty nesters two years earlier than expected! Fortunately, we still have two dogs, two cats and a goldfish to keep us company.
An exciting thing I’ve done recently: was going on a fun family road trip a few weeks ago. We flew into Denver and then drove to Arizona for a wedding. We visited several national parks along the way — Arches, Capital Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion and the Grand Canyon. I think almost every road we traveled on was a scenic byway, so the scenery was spectacular for the entire trip. It was an amazing experience despite the temperatures of 100+ degrees. I made a few travelogue slideshows if anyone is interested in taking a quick virtual vacation!
- Arches National Park
- Capital Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks
- Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks
If I could have one superpower: I’d have to go with teleportation. Living out in the country, I spend a lot of time commuting. It would be great to magically eliminate our drive time. Plus, I could pop over to Europe to have a meal or see a concert and then visit a Greek island to catch the sunset. I could go to any beach in the world and see every scenic place on the planet without the hassles and expenses of flying and driving. Instantaneous travel sounds ideal to me!