U.Va. Gears Up for Return of Students

August 19, 2009

August 19, 2009 — "Move-In Day" at the University of Virginia is Saturday, and by the time classes start Tuesday, 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.

This week, UVA Today is checking in with a few of the people around the University who are preparing to welcome the students back to Grounds.

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

Newcomb Preps for Start of Academic Year

Established as a place where "the far-flung interests of the University could have some manner of mutual contact," Newcomb Hall houses a panoply of spaces and services, including the most popular and central dining hall on Grounds; the offices of the Cavalier Daily, Student Council and the Honor and Judiciary committees; and the Student Activities Center – a hub for the University's more than 700 student organizations.

Along with a movie theater, game room, art gallery, lockers and computer terminals, nine meeting rooms host gatherings of anywhere from five to 500 people. Services in Newcomb include a post office, hair salon, bank, ticket offices, and an assortment of retail food options in Pavilion XI ("The Pav"), from sushi to Chick-fil-A.

Student workers take a lead role in keeping this nerve center of student life humming from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week during the school year, explained Nick Rau, operations manager at Newcomb. The two weeks before classes start is training time for the nearly 80 student workers (up from 15 to 20 over the summer) who fill a number of roles, including answering questions at the information desk, computer support, event marketing and running the Student Activities Center.

Students handle the lion's share of responsibilities related to events at Newcomb, from answering requests in the event planning office, to setting up the chairs, stages or computer equipment needed for a given event, to working with customers during events.

Every student worker is supervised or managed by at least one of the 35 professional, year-round staff at Newcomb, and often they work side by side.

Part of the mission at Newcomb is to facilitate student personal growth, exploration and development, Rau said. "We have a philosophy here: 'If a student can learn and grow from a situation, we should put them out front, and we should be willing to allow them to go and learn, and potentially make mistakes, but give them the opportunity to work.'"

Dining Services Comes Back with Some New Offerings

Dining Services is bringing employees back and preparing for the onslaught of students.

During the summer, Observatory Hill Dining Hall and Newcomb Dining Hall alternated being open, while the West Range Cafe remained open all summer. All dining locations will be open by Sunday and all the retail outlets will be open by Tuesday.

For Move-In Day, Dining Services will provide water in University housing areas. Runk Dining Hall will be open for light lunches for students and families. Observatory Hill Dining Hall will be open on Move-In Day as well.

Dining has instituted several new initiatives, such as a "Text & Tell" comment system, which replaces paper comment forms in the dining halls.

Reusable take-away containers will be available to students for a $7 deposit. Students will bring the containers back to the dining hall and receive a new one; Dining Services will wash the containers.

"If they bring back the containers all year, they will get their money refunded," said Nicole Jackson, marketing manager for U.Va. Dining.

Several new eating options have been added for students as well.

Burrito Theory opens in Pavilion XI in Newcomb Hall, replacing Cranberry Farms. Burrito Theory will serve burritos, tacos, salads, as well as local salsa from Red Hill Farms and tofu from Twin Oaks Farm.

Poolside Cafe will open at the Aquatic and Fitness Center with an expanded menu of smoothies, yogurt and frozen yogurt.

Bistro 525 will open at the ground floor of Observatory Hill Dining Hall, offering grilled foods such as steak and chicken as well as cheese steak, potatoes and rice.

Dining Services will also sponsor "A Taste of Dining" event from 5 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 29, featuring all dining halls under a big tent on the lawn outside Observatory Hill Dining Hall. Food retailers will also be featured in smaller tents nearby. Kings of Belmont and Trees on Fire will perform, as well as four U.Va. groups.

Bookstore Offers Cost-Saving Textbook Rentals, Online Purchasing and Green Products

The U.Va. Bookstore will be a busy place for the next few weeks. Students will need dorm and school supplies and books for classes, which start Tuesday. The main store, located atop the Central Grounds Parking Garage, is stocked, staffed and ready to assist students and community members, director Jonathan Kates said.

"The bookstore prides itself in providing excellent customer service and competitively priced merchandise," Kates said. "We're also conveniently located and open seven days a week."

Students who participate in the bookstore's textbook rental program can save 53 percent to 70 percent off the retail price of new textbooks, he said. Now in its third year, the program has been very successful.

When it started, "we offered 15 textbook rentals," Kates said. "Now, we have exceeded 150 textbooks." About 125 classes are participating in the program this semester.

"Our rental program targets the classes with the highest enrollment and most expensive textbooks in order to have the greatest impact possible," he added. For example, the textbook for introductory economics – with about 1,000 students – costs $173 new or $130 used, but just $55 to rent.

"We also consult with faculty members when textbooks go into new editions," Kates said. "We offer them the option of using the older edition if the changes between editions are, as is often the case, insignificant. This can result in huge savings for students, up to 75 percent discount off of the new book price."

In addition, the bookstore offers students eBooks, or digital books, and a guaranteed buy-back for selected textbooks both new and used, Kates said.

Students can also order their books online and pick them up at the bookstore.

Given the current economy, "We're placing more and more emphasis on finding high-quality but lower-priced merchandise that can stretch our customers' dollars," Kates said. "We're also a very green bookstore," offering a selection of eco-friendly products.

The weeks leading up to and following move-in also help the local economy. The bookstore employs about 30 to 40 temporary workers for four weeks, Kates said.

Shopping at the bookstore is a benefit to not only customers, but also the University, Kates said. "We're a nonprofit. After we cover our operating expenses, all of our revenue goes back to the University's endowment for excellence that has helped fund a need-based scholarship program and other initiatives."

For move-in day and the week following, the bookstore will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Monday through Thursday of next week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., returning to its normal hours of operation on Friday.