Campus News - April 23, 2001

Physical Plant's Valtierra key to campus security

by Mary Conrad

Miguel Valtierra, Supervisor, UNM Lock Shop.Miguel Valtierra, supervisor of the UNM lockshop, doesn’t know how many keys are stashed in the metal cabinets in his office. “One too many,” he answers.

Pushed further, he owns there are “thousands upon thousands.” The padlock keys alone number more than 1,200.

They are all key to our security on campus.

“People are very cautious about their personal keys,” says Miguel. “They should be that way about their university keys! They keep their personal keys in their pockets, but their university keys in their doors.”

Miguel began work as a UNM locksmith in 1986; he became supervisor of the main campus lockshop in 1991. Three locksmiths are out in the field all day: Rod Goad, Steve Mack and David Rookard. Julie Harris, data base coordinator, stays in the shop, converting the manual record-keeping system to electronic.

After Julie finishes transferring the hordes of green file cards to the computer, Miguel says, “we’ll have a better idea how many keys there are, along with how many door knobs!”

But Miguel doesn’t deal only with locks and keys. Each key is assigned to a person-generally pleasant, until that person arrives at the shop without the proper paperwork. At that point, Miguel says, “they storm out!”

(Remember: you MUST have your UNM ID for any lockshop transactions.)

Miguel learned locksmithing through on-the-job training with the Veterans’ Administration. He’d served in the Army Airborn after high school, stationed in Vicenza, Italy.

But he grew up in Albuquerque. As a teenager, he began collecting records, a hobby he still practices. In fact, Miguel has more than 2,000 albums from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s. Country music. Popular music. All kinds of music, stored in a separate bedroom in his home.“Cashwise,” Miguel doubts the albums are very valuable. On the other hand, they have historic value in the music world. Oftentimes artists leave a group or form other groups. Miguel’s collection archives those changes.

“He can beat anyone at ‘Name That Tune!’” says Julie.

But back to keys. To all those embarrassed folks who must admit to Miguel that they lost their keys, take heart. Once, while Miguel was working for a private lockshop, he says he locked his keys and picks in the shop’s van. He sheepishly called the shop to open it.

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