What's Your Summer Vibe?

Is the line at the Starbucks any shorter?

July 11, 2019

What is the vibe on your campus in the summer?  Is it quiet? Is it business as usual? What kinds of programs are running?  If you have the option, do you go to campus or avoid it? Is the line at the Starbucks any shorter?

Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, Northwestern University

I look out my office window onto the campus thoroughfare where undergrads walk, run, scooter, and cycle to and from classes during the academic year.  During the summer, it fills with hoards of K-12 campers, who travel in packs, wearing matching t-shirts, led by college student councilors looking marginally better-slept than during their own midterms.  These children get to eat in the dorm cafeteria behind my office, but I do not. As someone with a deep appreciation for the free dorm food I earn as a residential college fellow from September through June, I am overcome by envy as I review my own diminished prospects for comestibles in July and August, when I am denied free access to the nirvana of an all-I-can-eat buffet (pre-labeled with ingredients and calorie count) without having to lift a finger!  I suspect the vast majority of the children who get to consume what I consider my food have parents who prepare and present meals on their behalves and lack the slightest sense of how very lucky they are.  As ever, youth is wasted on the young!

Lee Skallerup Bessette, Georgetown University

We have a medical school, a robust graduate school, and a whole slew of summer programs for high school kids on campus. And, Georgetown (the neighborhood in D.C.) attracts a lot of tourists during the summer months. Plus, our building is literally next to the Exorcist Staircase. In other words, it’s still really busy on and especially around campus. We have to be careful not to get run over by anyone riding those dang electric scooters. So while work-wise, we have more time and space to plan and revise and rethink, the energy isn’t that much different than during the academic year. 

Anamaria Dutceac Segesten, Lund University (Sweden)

Swedes take summer holidays very seriously. Since we are a public university, we follow the official calendar for state employee holidays, so we are free during the month of July. The campus is pretty much closed then, since there is no tradition of taking (or giving) summer courses. In fact, since I live in a university city, it’s not just the campus but the entire downtown area that looks deserted. I sometimes come into the office and use this quiet time to increase my productivity and tie together the last ends of work in progress. However, as a rule, summer is a for relaxation so chances are you won’t see me on campus that much.

Melissa Nicolas, Washington State University

I haven’t actually started at my new institution yet, but when I came for my campus visit in the middle of winter, everything was gray and wet and dreary. Now, as I am getting my office set-up and visiting the various places I need to in order to establish myself, I am overwhelmed by my new campus’s beauty: large trees with drooping branches creating shady boulevards; gentle breezes cooling the mid-afternoon air; technicolor sunsets dancing along the brick buildings. A college campus in the summer is idyllic: there are still students, faculty, and staff around, but the pace is slower, dare I say more humane. Summers always remind me how fortunate I am to live an academic life, to have this precious time to reset and re-prioritize. When I see those orientation groups roaming campus, I want to talk to each and every new student and tell them to treasure this time, this gift. Soon enough, the line at Starbucks is going to be out the door again!

Niya Bond, Digitally Diverse Professional, On-Site Engineering Advisor, and PhD Student at the University of Maine

Did someone mention Starbucks? Please bring me a chai tea latte. I’ll need it because summer in both of my professional worlds is frenzied; there is no rest for the weary in engineering advising or online English teaching and consulting. At my brick-and-mortar, my advising team-of-two is working diligently to establish schedules for hundreds of incoming engineering students. We are in constant communication with new students, which I find rewarding, since I get to play a large role in the exciting postsecondary entry of each and every incoming freshman. However, frequent interactions also ensure that my summer days are overly full, and the months pass in the blur of a million clicks of "send" or "reply." In the online world, at least as a virtual adjunct and remote contractor, summer is no different than any other session. Indeed, sunny days and blue skies simply provide alternative (and possibly additional--the daylight lasts so long during a Maine summer!) opportunities for virtual productivity. As at any other time during the year, I am committed to consciously contributing to virtual learning journeys that empower students and enhance digital online/teaching learning interactions. 

What is the vibe on your campus in the summer? 


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