Happy New Year! U.Va. Ready to Welcome Students Back to Grounds

August 18, 2009

August 18, 2009 — "Move-In Day" at the University of Virginia is Saturday, and by the time classes start Aug. 25, Charlottesville and the Grounds will be re-energized with the voices and movement of more than 21,000 students. Waiting to greet them at U.Va. will be more than 13,000 faculty and staff members, most of whom have been working toward the new academic year for weeks – or longer.

For the next three days, UVA Today will check in with a few of the people around the University who are preparing to welcome the students back to Grounds.

Today: University Police, Parking & Transportation, Dean of Students Office
Thursday: University Dining, University Bookstore, Newcomb Hall
Friday: University Housing, ITC, Cavalier Computers, Recycling

'Best Job in the World': Dean of Students Ready for Long Days

Allen Groves slipped in a quick vacation somewhere back in the spring, between graduation and the weeklong "Leadership 2009" program for student leaders.

Being dean of students demands time and attention year-round, Groves said. But for anyone in Student Affairs, work becomes downright all-consuming at this time of year.

The buildup has already started. Senior residents in Residence Life – part of Groves' office – had a weeklong orientation earlier this month, and now the rest of the hundreds of resident assistants are undergoing their orientation. Other student organizations are gearing up for Tuesday's official first day of the semester.

"It cranks up in a huge way," Groves said.

He and his staff usually schedule about a half-dozen appointments with students each day, in addition to frequent drop-in traffic.

But the work doesn't end at 5 o'clock. Most student organizations meet outside normal classroom hours, and Groves and his staff try to attend as many student meetings, events and activities as they can – as speakers, mentors or just to refer them to resources – which often extends the workday until late in the evenings and weekends.

"Students tease me that they walk by Peabody Hall at night, and the top two windows are always lit," he said.

Saturday will be especially demanding, Groves said. He'll arrive around 8 a.m. for "Move-In Day," and won't go home until a late-night ride-along with the University Police wraps up around 2 a.m.

"I think I have the best job in the world," Groves said. "Not a day goes by that I don't feel like I've made a difference."

P&T Gears Up for New School Year

"Move-In Day" and the return of students mark a busy time for the Department of Parking & Transportation.

According to Rebecca White, director of P&T, training sessions are wrapping up for roughly 30 new student bus drivers the department hires each year.

"Student drivers are an important element of our overall transportation plan," White said.

Move-In Day itself has to work like finely meshed gears to be successful, and P&T plays a large part in that.

"We help families park close in areas not normally used," White said. "We ask that they use the space for 30 minutes and then move to longer-term parking at the stadium."

White's department also works closely with Facilities Management to ensure that temporary gravel ramps are in place so various grassy areas can be used for off-loading.

P&T mobilizes a force of about 45 people to staff move-in, assisting at the McCormick Road houses, the Alderman Road residences, Hereford College and the Gooch/Dillard houses.

Parking & Transportation also addresses longer-term parking issues. "We started selling parking permits to students on Aug. 10," White said. "And we have been offering sales to students through our Web site this year."

P&T's big gear-up does not end Saturday.

"The football season starts within the first two weeks of school, so we have to be sure we are ready for that," she said. "We have to have our communications arranged, routes laid out and staffing plans."

Police Charged With Creating Order Out of Move-In Chaos

As students and parents converge upon Grounds on Saturday, police officers may well be the first University staff they encounter.

Starting at 6 a.m., between 25 and 30 officers will be positioned throughout the vicinity of first-year dormitories, charged with keeping the heavy traffic moving in a safe and orderly manner. An officer is stationed at each intersection and off-loading spot (designated or not) throughout the dorms, from the ramp connecting Emmet Street and McCormick Road to the intersection of Alderman and McCormick roads, and then throughout the Alderman Road dormitories, said Lt. Melissa Fielding.

The police officers work closely with staff from Parking & Transportation, who control and manage the traffic in the nearby parking lots and garages while the police handle the traffic flow on the roads.

As challenges arise, the police also coordinate and collaborate with staff from Residence Life, the Office of the Dean of Students, and Housing, communicating through the police command trailer at the Leake Building at the intersection of Alderman and McCormick.

Crime prevention coordinator Becky Campbell staffs a table in front of Gilmer Hall where she provides students and parents with crime prevention information, and encourages students to register their bicycles. Recording a serial number and description will be very helpful if the bike is ever stolen, Fielding said. In past years, several hundred students have registered their bicycles on Move-In Day.

Police officers stay out in full force until the influx of students dwindles, usually in the mid-afternoon.