July 29, 2003 — During the University of Utah’s “summer season”-from May 9th until Aug. 10th, about 14,000 conference visitors to campus will occupy University Guest House suites and Heritage Commons residence halls, home to U students during the academic year. Although the U has experienced a large increase in adult conferences and seminars in the residence halls, the majority of these summer guests are youths, participating in dance, sports, cheerleading and motivational camps and workshops.
According to Marci Healy, summer housing coordination manager for the U, the University is especially well suited for all types of conferences as it provides outside fields, meeting rooms, dining facilities and accommodations at affordable rates. The Chase N. Peterson Heritage Center, the hub of the residence halls, offers conference space, as does historic Fort Douglas-in the renovated theatre, Post Chapel, Commander’s House, Officer’s Club and Guest House.
Perry Hacker, associate director, guest and conference services in the Office of Residential Living at the U, says the U appeals to conference attendees because it is a beautiful campus and offers new facilities, which were completed in time for the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
“The U is not really in the city and not really in the mountains, but in this place in between where you have the best of both,” Hacker says. “The Fort Douglas area is wooded, serene and historic. Guests can go hiking or mountain biking in the hills just behind us or in minutes be downtown to see a play, a movie, go to the planetarium or just explore all that the city has to offer. With the new TRAX extension you don’t even need a car.”
The U’s conference facilities and accommodations departments provide lodging and services for visiting professors, members of professional associations, wedding parties, hospital visitors and military personnel. Recent groups to stay in the U’s new residence halls were from the International Clarinet Association’s annual ClarinetFest, Regina Optimist Dolphin Swim Club, Polynesian Youth Association, Outback Orientation, AP Teacher Institute, U of U School on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies and the Association for Student Judicial Affairs (ASJA) Donald D. Gehring Campus Judicial Affairs Training Institute. Past lodgers have included harpists, marching bands and religious groups-the United Methodists and Lutherans. This year, for the first time, Brigham Young University offered two Especially for Youth weeklong sessions to 1,000 teens on the University of Utah campus and expects to offer four sessions next year.
This summer youth camp participants have come from the Salt Lake Sports Complex Summer Skating Program, the Rick Majerus and Lady Utes Basketball Camps as well as from Adventures Cross Country, Rein Teen Tours, American Trails West and Universal and National Cheer and Dance Associations.
Not all conference participants stay overnight. “A lot of local commuter youth dine here and use our facilities and then go home. Having youth attend camps on campus is a wonderful opportunity for the U to show what we have. Hopefully we have made an impression so that local and out-of-state students will think of the U when they’re choosing a college,” Healy says.
Annie Nebeker, associate dean of students at the U, reports that recently the ASJA participants were surprised by and impressed with the U’s facilities. “Their concept of Utah was very foreign. They loved the residential halls. We like to showcase what we have here so we took them to the Pointe, Rice Eccles Stadium and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. It was really fun to see the University through their eyes. And they loved the mountains.”
All accommodations in Heritage Commons are air conditioned with laundry facilities nearby. The U has 1,550 dorm-style beds and 308 apartment-style beds available for conferences.
“So many visitors cannot believe the facilities they get for the money they pay. Our campus is convenient, attractive and it’s almost always nice weather in the summer,” Hacker says. “It’s just cool up here. It’s a peaceful, wonderful place.”