Summer class runs efficiently

Sarah Hillenbrand

With fewer students on campus over the spring and summer semesters, Grand Valley State University tries to reduce unnecessary costs as much as possible as it aims toward sustainability and environmental efficiency.

“Grand Valley is still a very active place in the summertime, but we do reduce in the areas that we think make sense and have a positive impact on the utility budget,” said Tim Thimmesch, associate vice president for Facilities Services.

Facilities Services does as much as it can over the summer to cut costs, Thimmesch said. Some parking lots are closed, and overnight lighting and water are turned off on certain parts of campus. The university also saves on electricity by limiting the number of computer labs available and the amount of time they are open during the week.

Although as much as possible is conserved, Thimmesch said there are about 5,000 students still staying on campus for the summer, so the campus must remain functional for them. Those students, summer camps and other visitors are consolidated to a few academic buildings that remain open.

“There are quite a few classes going on, but they consolidate where they can,” he said. “They’re not able to do it to a big extent because the buildings are still in use.”

Sherril Soman, interim university registrar, said academic departments determine which courses are offered over the summer, and class sizes vary depending on what the department requests.

Soman said departments also reserve classroom space depending on the various types of activities in each class, which determines where the classes will be held.

“Because of the variety of activities that occur we do not restrict classes to any specific buildings during the summer,” Soman said. “For example, lab sections are taught in laboratory spaces that are appropriate for the relevant discipline.”

This summer’s enrollment is not expected to have any large increases or decreases in comparison to other years, and not many changes have been made with course sections that are being offered, said Philip Batty, director of Institutional Analysis. Thimmesch said about 5,000 students are remaining on campus, so the university will be working around them as it completes its routine projects and maintenance.

Some projects that are being worked on this summer include the renovations of the Zumberge Library and AuSable Hall, mowing, landscaping and other smaller projects.

“The other thing we do, from an operational standpoint, is a lot of project work in the summer, whether it’s painting, minor repairs, lighting or other projects,” Thimmesch said. “From a custodial standpoint, we become like a hotel business with the summer camp groups because they’re here for a few days and then leave, so we go into the individual rooms for cleaning.”

Even so, Thimmesch said the focus should be on trying to bring in even more camps during the summer and increase the activity level on campus, rather than reducing it for the university to become more efficient in cost.

“We have a very busy summer ahead of us and a lot to accomplish in a few months’ period of time,” he said. “The university probably has never been as busy during the summertime as we’re looking at this summer.”

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