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Campus Initiatives Boost UAlbany’s Events and Spirit
by Carol Flax (December 12, 2003)

Wondering what to do this evening? Or this weekend? There’s plenty happening right here on campus.

The University this fall launched a variety of efforts to build awareness in the UAlbany community of the rich array of campus activities and traditions, and those efforts are boosting attendance and spirit.

The first new initiative to launch was a pilot program aimed at new students called UAlbany Go2!Events. The concept, developed by the University’s Office of Media and Marketing, was to create an incentive program for freshmen that informed them about the variety of University events and oriented them to the school’s traditions and such symbols as Minerva and the Great Dane.

On move-in weekend, 3,000 freshman and transfer students received a “Welcome to UAlbany” CD-ROM package. Inside, students found a foldout calendar of campus events and a CD filled with information about the University, including a recording of the fight song recorded by the Earth Tones, a University a cappella group. The CD offered students screen savers of campus beauty shots and useful links to help ease the transition to college life.

Students also found a link to register for UAlbany Go2!Events, a special incentive program where students could win prizes for attending University events. To date, more than 800 students have registered for the program, an impressive participation rate of 27 percent. Several campus entities help sponsor the program, including the Alumni Association, the New York State Writers Institute, University Auxiliary Services, Student Affairs, Parking Management and the Student Association, which donated a spring break vacation to Daytona Beach for the lucky winner who attends nine or more University events.

“UAlbany Go2!Events has proven to be a meaningful way for the campus to come together and showcase the University’s rich offering of activities, cultural and athletic events,” said Catherine Herman, associate vice president of Media and Marketing. “The student feedback has been remarkable.”

“I think the students’ events are phenomenal and allow students to enjoy their time here at UAlbany,” e-mailed a freshman who registered online for the program.

While the University’s newest students received the UAlbany Go2!Events package, faculty and staff received on the first day of classes a Today@UAlbany fall pocket calendar of campus events and a University decal. The calendar was sponsored by the Alumni Association and the New York State Writers Institute. It proved so popular that additional copies were printed for departmental use and for external distribution to such community groups as the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations and the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association.

The UAlbany Go2!Events program will culminate at the Big Purple Growl in February, when the students who have attended the most events will be awarded the grand prizes.

Also working to build attendance and spirit is the campus Spirit Committee, composed of students and staff from across the University and led by Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Christine Bouchard. The committee is working to recruit faculty members, as well. It recently brought back a decades-old tradition of freshman rivalry with Clash of the Quads, a weekend of spirited rivalry between the residents of State and Dutch quads that took place in October.

The committee is recruiting members of the UAlbany community to form a pep band. UAlbany’s adjunct music instructor and director of the nearby Lansingburgh High School band, Kevin Champagne, will direct the UAlbany Pep Band. “We’re looking for about 15 people — faculty, staff, alumni, students and friends of the University — who have at least high school proficiency with a musical instrument,” said Champagne. “We’ve got the music, the instruments and the uniforms (rugby shirts) and just need some participation to make this happen.”

Tracking attendance records at fall athletic events, Rick Coe, associate director for business operations for UAlbany athletics, reports that the attendance for the first home football game against Brown University September 20 was 3,680 — an increase of 2,349 over last year. The attendance for homecoming against Stony Brook October 25 was 5,340 — the largest at University Field since 1997 and the third best since 1984. “Overall,” Coe says, “there was a 51 percent increase over last year’s five regular season games.”

The pocket calendar for faculty and staff complements and builds on the
daily e-mail service, Today@UAlbany, launched two years ago by the Office of Media & Marketing to notify faculty and staff of upcoming campus events and special announcements.

A spring events calendar is already in production with an eye to creating an online version that would facilitate and support all campus events.

Meanwhile, the CD-ROM format, which proved an effective vehicle to reach new UAlbany students, is now being considered by University staff as a medium to distribute important information to freshmen before they arrive on campus.


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