Offices, Departments Use Summer “Break” to Catch Up, Prepare for Fall

Posted: July 12, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

After the end of final examinations and the annual commencement festivities each May, most George Mason students take a break from the rigors of the normal academic year. However, for many of the university’s departments and offices, the summer “break” is an opportune time to catch up on work that may have been delayed during the fall or spring semester. The summer is also used as a time to work on renovation and building projects across the university’s campuses. This year, preparing to switch over to the Banner system is on the top of many agendas as well.

University Services is currently working on four major construction and renovation projects, according to John Spaldo, assistant vice president for University

Services. These include a $2 million renovation of the Commonwealth Hall student housing and painting and carpeting of Dominion Hall. Parking Lot J is also expanding, with 170 additional spaces being created for the George Mason community. All of these projects are currently scheduled for completion in early August. In addition, the new, 498-bed apartment-style Potomac Heights residence unit, already fully rented, is set to open in August, says Spaldo.

Although its hours of operation remain the same, the Office of the Registrar is in the midst of preparing for the new Banner system, to which all student information and university systems will move in the near future. “The Registrar’s Office has a key role in the conversion of all student information and systems to Banner, some key elements of which are occurring during the summer,” says Susan Jones, university registrar.

Wendy Payton, director of special projects for the vice provost for academic affairs, notes that with the successful launch of online registration and bill paying in Banner Student, “The implementation team is currently working on the degree audit and online grading capabilities, which will be implemented in the fall.”

Payton advises staff and faculty to register for workshops on Banner Student through the IT training web site. Training materials are available on DocuShare, in the Banner End User Support collection.

The Office of Events Management, which handles the scheduling and preparation for events and activities on George Mason’s three campuses, including conferences, symposia, and workshops, continues to work through the summer, with a host of youth camps. “Scheduling usually falls off some in the summer, but we have lots of camps at this time, and the staff is busy with those. We usually do some admissions events during the summer and have some other events, like Movies under the Moon, so that keeps us busy as well. Our focus is planning, and since we always have our eye on the future here, we’re always doing our best to keep ahead of it,” says Mary Jo Olsavsky, events managements operations manager.

Orientation programs for incoming students are conducted over the summer, with multiple dates available. However, the preparatory process leading up to Orientation usually starts in August or September of the year preceding the Orientation dates.

“During Orientation, we are on campus and on our feet from approximately 6 or 6:30 a.m. until approximately 11 p.m. each night, with the exception of the days on which there is not a session. We are working with our team, assisting presenters, directing students and their families, presenting program components, providing meals, answering questions, and generally facilitating the program and process to ensure a meaningful experience and successful transition for our new students and their families,” says Amy Snyder, orientation director. “Additionally, we are very committed to student and professional development, so we spend countless hours working with our student leaders and paraprofessional staff to ensure they are receiving a meaningful experience with the department and program.”

Within the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Ted Kinnaman, assistant professor of philosophy, directed an academic conference, “Philosophy and Literature After Kant: Re-Evaluating Early German Romanticism,” last month. “Most of our [faculty] use the summer to teach, travel, and do research,” says David Kaufman, the department’s chair and an associate professor of English, who is currently working on a book.

“We’re staying busy,” says David Harr, School of Management (SOM) senior associate dean. With summer classes filled at 106 percent of expected enrollment, new faculty preparing to join the George Mason community in the fall, and a host of conferences ongoing or coming up, SOM is bustling. “It may not look like there’s a lot going on, but we do have a lot going on,” Harr says. “We’re expanding two of our classrooms in SUB II, bringing their [seating] capacity from 39 to 50, and also creating the technology, in terms of moving from videotape to DVD and expanding the capability of the whole system to better support the learning in all three classrooms, plus focus group rooms. In terms of construction, that’s the big [project] for us [this summer.]”

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