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Colleges Keep Busy in The Summer to Keep Money Flowing

July 12, 1992

MEDFORD, Mass. (AP) _ Most Tufts University students have gone home to summer jobs and sunny beaches, but the campus is as busy as ever.

Six-year-olds are dropped off at a theater class. High school sophomores living in the dormitories are taking writing classes. Foreign visitors study English. Teachers are learning drug intervention. And 300 epidemiologists are convening.

″We basically used to have an empty campus in the summer,″ said Marjorie Farley, director of university conferences. ″Now we’re turning people away because we don’t have any more space.″

Campus buildings and grounds once totally deserted in the summertime are being filled by cheerleading camps, conventions, seminars, athletic workshops and other programs meant to keep dorms and classrooms full - and money coming into school coffers.

″There’s excess capacity in the summer and the campuses want to use that capacity to maintain a cash flow,″ said Les Coyne, executive director of the Association of University Summer Sessions and director of summer programs at Indiana University.

″Campuses are much more aggressive and creative in using capacity where they’re paying overhead,″ Coyne said.

There are other incentives. Colleges and universities that play host to young people in the summer can display their campuses to potential students.

″There’s a growing awareness among universities that the summer is a good time to begin making friends with young adults who are still in secondary schools,″ said Craig Roloff, Montana State University’s assistant vice president for administration and the National Association of College and University Business Officers’ facilities administration chairman.

Montana State last week hosted a basketball camp, a soccer camp, a cheerleading camp, a seminar for science teachers, a 4-H congress and a conference of the Montana Weavers and Spinners Association.

″It keeps a good portion of our residence halls busy in the summer,″ Roloff said. ″If you can generate revenue during the summer, your fees for students during the school year will be lower.″

Benefits go both ways. Organizations from Boy Scout councils to medical specialists have found dormitories less expensive than hotels and cafeterias more economical than restaurants.

″Even physicians couldn’t afford a three-week program at a hotel and conference center,″ said Farley, who also is a consultant to schools beginning conference programs.

One of the most popular off-season activities is summer school for senior citizens, who bring in money for the school and participating faculty - and tend not to vandalize the dorms.

The nationwide Elderhostel summer program has grown from five campuses and 200 students in 1975 to 1,800 campuses and 250,000 students this summer, said Elderhostel spokeswoman Cady Goldfield.

Other schools run camps for kids, keeping expensive athletic facilities from lying dormant.

″Virtually every coach here has some kind of camp,″ said Indiana’s Coyne. Degree-seeking students also are more likely to stay in school for the summer, stretching course loads so they can earn tuition money while taking classes. Two-thirds of all four-year institutions offer summer sessions.

″The era of the four-year degree has passed, not because it’s so hard to get through the universities but because the students are carrying lighter loads so they can work full-time,″ said Dick Lorenzin, vice provost of the University of Washington in Seattle.

More than a third of the university’s 35,000 students are enrolled this summer, Lorenzin said. Conferences, extension classes and other programs fill much of the rest of the buildings.

″It makes me feel good when my colleagues say to me, ’The campus seems very active this summer. Has it always been this active?‴

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