By: Marc Sloan
Summer is an exciting time for students, faculty, and staff at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville! Many students travel home for the break, while some stay on Rocky Top and continue to take summer classes. Faculty and staff enjoy the summer atmosphere on campus, and summer is a great time for progress to be made on construction! For University Housing, summer means something a little different. It is an especially exciting time for those in the department who work throughout the academic year to prepare for the rush that is summer conferences, orientation sessions, and Room Selection. Thanks to the Administrative Services professionals at the main office at University Housing, each one of these processes is executed smoothly and meets the needs of students in authentic ways.
The initial excitement of summer is met in the spring semester when hand assignments for those who wish to live on campus for mini session and full session summer terms begin. This process takes place throughout the spring and summer semesters, as students continue to apply for summer classes. According to Joel Kramer, University Housing’s Assistant Director for Assignments and Accommodations, hand assignments are just one of the many responsibilities of his staff throughout the year. Joel’s team is responsible for overseeing the entire room selection process for incoming first-year students, Bridge program students, and international students. Other hand assignments include athletes and those who have special accommodations. Team members, Donna Reed and Bellamy Hackney, are each responsible for assigning students into residence halls across campus, and are very dedicated to helping students reach solutions to any issues that may arise throughout the housing process, even if it takes spending hours on the phone with them at a time.
Before Room Selection begins, however, another member of Joel’s team, Carrie Worley, is responsible for organizing and planning the eighty plus conferences that stay with us on campus during the summer. The summer conference staff includes ninety student staff members, six graduate assistants, and three hall directors. This team operates the entire conference process, from check in to check out. Carrie works with clients to accommodate their needs, including when and where they are going to stay. She also supervises the staff that assists in conference housing. One very important conference, housing for New Vols Orientation, is included in the list of responsibilities that fall under Carrie and her staff. However, orientation is an “all hands on deck” experience, and Joel, Donna, and Bellamy each play an integral role in answering questions, speaking to students and parents, and ensuring that the process of moving onto campus in the fall is going to be an effective transition for everyone involved.
During the summer, the Administrative Services staff gets to spend a lot of face time with students and parents, and this is something they greatly enjoy. According to each one of them, the increased interaction with Future Vols is rewarding, but it takes work on the back end to prepare for these interactions. This is the work that often goes unnoticed, and is worth recognizing as summer quickly approaches. During incoming student room selection in May, an average of 1,000 students a week are choosing rooms they are going to call home sweet home in the fall. In order for this large scale process to work, it is up to Joel and his team to be the dedicated, knowledgeable, and student-oriented professionals they are. We would like to say thank you to the entire Administrative Services team at University Housing, and we are very excited to welcome New Vols onto campus this summer, and next fall!