Ah, summer. A time for students, faculty and staff to kick up their collective feet and bask in the sun. Right? Well, no, not exactly. For many departments at UB, summer is an extremely busy time, as the university takes stock of the previous academic year, makes structural and curricular changes, and generally gets ready for fall, when the campus population balloons again. We spoke with the people who stick around during the summer to get a sense of what the off-season looks like on campus.
ISSS helps students with many aspects of their arrival in Buffalo and their transition to the U.S. According to director Ellen Dussourd, the office receives about 100 walk-ins per day in the summer by students seeking assistance with everything from applying for visas to finding housing.
Summer is taste-testing time. Each year, CDS looks at what students enjoyed most and develops new menu items to reflect those preferences. “Each of our kitchen managers will present different ideas, and we’ll bring them to an overall tasting where we’ll have some of our staff and students tell us what they think,” says Ray Kohl, marketing manager for CDS. This year, Fine Arts Café got a new menu, complete with organic fruits and vegetables, and a juice bar.
Summer is also the time for renovations. The Café received a facelift, as did these other campus food locations:
· Perk’s: Redesigned interior to serve Starbucks in the fall
· Goodyear Dining Center: A brand-new floor, as well as new tables and chairs
· Putnam’s: Renovated to improve traffic flow
“Football equipment orders are placed early in the summer and handed out to players a few weeks before the season starts. Some changes in equipment include bigger and better helmets.”
“Icebreakers” might seem silly, but these orientation games give new students an important jump on socializing. For international students, orientation is often their first taste of Buffalo wings, Loganberry—and the mist off Niagara Falls.
“I love ‘two truths and a lie’ as an icebreaker. Someone will say, ‘I ski, I’m originally from Bulgaria and my uncle is the drummer for Radiohead,’ and everyone will say, ‘OK, your uncle’s not the drummer for Radiohead,’ and it will turn out that he doesn’t ski.”
BY THE NUMBERS*:
* 2014 (2015 figures were unavailable at press time)
In addition to manning large UB events over the summer—including the Ride for Roswell, Dragon Boat Races and Fourth of July fireworks—University Police receive specialized training. Members of the Bicycle Patrol Unit plunge down UB Stadium stairs, weave through complicated obstacle courses and maneuver over barriers. The Firearms Training Unit takes advantage of the warm weather by honing their skills outside at nearby firing ranges. But they get a little R&R in, too.
“Since summer is a slower time, we allow our officers to get some well-deserved time off.”
“During the summertime, many students come in to take their visa photos. I meet people from all over the world, so I started marking where they come from on a map.”
“We started offering international programs over the summer because we realized a lot of international students don’t go back home. We have a program called Global Fun Day where we try to find an entertaining way to focus on cultural differences. For example, this summer, we played board games that are played in other countries.”
UB graduate students adopt various approaches to the summer months, from taking it a little easier, to buckling down, to taking it a little easier but with a guilty feeling that they should be buckling down.
“Teaching in the summer is nice. There are fewer students, so there’s less grading!”
“I’m prepping for two comprehensive exam lists. It’s partially about the experience of subjecting oneself to these voluminous philosophical works, like Hobbes’ ‘Leviathan.’ The page count that I estimated for the summer is roughly 4,500.”
“I often feel guilty for enjoying the summer because I should get back to my research.”
Over the summer, the facilities staff puts in long hours revamping the campus. Projects include:
· Stripping and resealing classroom and hallway floors
· Updating classroom furniture and media services
· Repointing and painting building exteriors
· Replacing building roofs
· Painting classrooms and hallways
· Repaving sidewalks, roadways and parking lots
· Restriping campus roads and crosswalks
“I’m developing two new undergraduate courses for the fall. It involves a lot of reading, re-reading and refreshing, even if most of it will never find its way into the syllabus. It’s like a course I take in order to be able to teach.”
“As part of training our graduate geology students, we typically spend our summer on the Greenland ice sheet or near volcanoes, wherever we’re doing our geological research. Students collect all the data they’ll analyze over the course of the school year.”
“We handle dissertation submissions and degree-completion paperwork for more than 500 students who are receiving their master’s degrees, doctoral degrees and advanced certificates. We also process about 190 new and continuing Presidential Fellowships for outstanding graduate students and about 85 Schomburg Fellowships for underrepresented graduate students. These programs are critical in our effort to improve the quality and diversity of our graduate students.”
“One thing we spend a lot of time on when we’re getting ready for the fall is searching for the latest health care products. Are there better, safer needles for us to use? Could we be doing better wound care? Right now, we’re using new bandages that are easier to change, which helps people keep the wound clean and protected.”
The office of Off-Campus Student Services holds Operation Doorhanger every summer. Last year, 2,300 residents in the University Heights neighborhood received tote bags from students and staff containing information on upcoming events, energy-savings tips and UB Bulls team schedules.
“Our 24/7 Instant Librarian service is open throughout the summer months, so anyone with a general question can chat with a librarian any time, day or night. If you Google ‘library chat,’ the UB Libraries are one of the top three results. Last week, one of our librarians answered a question from someone in London.”
Over the course of the summer, residence halls and apartments need to be, shall we say, “refreshed.” We’re talking 3,000 residence hall rooms and 1,000 apartments, plus common areas—an overall area of 2,000,000 square feet to clean and rehab.
With a full lineup of events, including movie nights, an aerial dance performance at Baird Point and a midnight cookout, Opening Weekend 2015 gave thousands of new students a chance to blow off the last of their summer steam before plunging into the school year.