UW News

July 10, 2008

Bankers, boomerangers, rockers and more — a summer of conference guests at the UW

UW News

Bankers and boomerangers, football players and first-year students, computer programmers and cheerleaders. And bike riders and teachers and swimmers and librarians. Oh, and rockers, don’t forget those kids learning power chords.

The calendar tells us it’s summer even if the weather doesn’t always agree. And that means campus guests — students, researchers, interns, athletes, mid-career professionals and others coming to the UW for summer conferences and workshops. Some are here for a few hours, others stay for days in residence halls.

The conference schedule begins just after school gets out each spring and ends a few days — sometimes just a few hours — before school resumes in the fall, said Leonard O’Connor, general manager of Conference Services, which is part of the Department of Housing and Food Services.

O’Connor said when one visiting group is followed closely by the next, his crew calls it a “same-day turn.” The Panhellenic Rush, a mid-September event where female students match up with sorority houses, represents even faster work. “They leave one Sunday and we have students checking in later that day,” O’Connor said. That’s a “same-morning turn.”

The department’s schedule for summer visitors lists 180 different conference groups involving about 11,000 guests from June 16 to Sept. 9.

Many of those guests are incoming freshmen getting orientation from the First Year Programs office, said Grant Kollet, the office director. About 5,600 students come to campus for two-day orientation sessions held Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday. In these sessions, students get registered for fall classes and hook up with all the resources they’ll need on campus, from financial aid to housing and transportation.

About 40 percent of those new students bring parents to visit the campus, and this happens on Tuesdays and Fridays, Kollet said. Also, orientation is given to about 1,300 students transferring from community colleges and other four-year schools.

There are older students on campus in the summer, too — some of them mid-career professionals here to brush up on skills. A perennial favorite, O’Connor said, is the Pacific Coast Banking School, a three-year program for mid- to upper-level banking executives that has, incredibly, sent students to the UW campus for summer courses every year since 1938.

“The term ‘bankers’ means a great deal to people all over campus, and the numbers are fairly large. There are 700 to 800 of them, and residency during the two-week program is mandatory, even if you live in Bellevue,” O’Connor said.

Three major bike journeys start at the UW this summer — the Seattle to Portland Classic, the American Lung Association’s “Big Ride Across America” and the Sea to Sea Bike Tour.

Interns and researchers for the UW and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as well as companies such as Google and Microsoft stay on campus during summer workshops. And there are two different types of computer camps for younger students — Cybercamp and iD Tech Camp. The UW GEAR UP project, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, offers a summer institute to help middle and high school students steer their academic efforts toward college.

And of course there are football players and lacrosse players and golfers and cheerleaders on campus in number every summer, practicing for the coming year.

While the UW hosts many summer events, it also plays host to off-campus organizations holding workshops and conferences on campus. Among these are the Tango Magic Festival, the Taipei Fire Department and Power Chord Academy, a rock ‘n roll camp for teenagers.

Staying about the same time in August as the Pacific Coast Banking School, those 70-year veterans of the UW summer conference season, is a lively-sounding group called the World Boomerang Championships.

O’Connor said, “The joke is, the World Boomerang Conference is coming here for the first time, but depending on how things fly, we’re hoping they’ll be back again and again.”