Although none are officially announced yet, the University of Indianapolis is ramping up the level of community engagement with a slate of conferences and camps this summer. Director of Event Services Christie Beckmann said that President Robert Manuel hopes to bring more people to campus to learn through these initiatives this summer.
“There are new initiatives this year … [in order] for us to increase the number of summer camps we are offering to the community,” Beckmann said. “A lot of departments are offering new camps through this initiative. Hopefully the community will be able to attend and explore an area that they are interested in.”
Beckmann said that although there are more events scheduled during the school year nowadays, they are mostly initiated by on-campus groups such as professors, the President’s Office or registered student organizations, not outside groups. She said that the event service office tries to restrict off-campus initiated events to the summer, when more space is available and the events will not inconvenience students and faculty.
UIndy hosts most of its outside events during the summer. UIndy hosts sports camps, a 4-H leadership conference, church events and other such activities. Beckmann said that UIndy does not advertise because space on campus is limited, but many groups still find UIndy organically, through the website and from word of mouth.
The event service office coordinates events and works with people who want to hold events, to make the necessary arrangements. Beckmann said that the planning is complex for many events, especially if the group wants housing and food service. All of the processes for renting event space, food service, renting rooms in a residence hall and other details are available online.
Beckmann said that UIndy is certainly more active than it was when she was a student 20 years ago and admitted that it can be harder to schedule an event with all of the activities. She said that there has been discussion among administrators about creating more event space to keep up with student and RSO growth. However, she said that she is not aware of specific plans for the long term, but there will be some new space in the Health Pavilion when that opens.
According to Beckmann, conferences and events at UIndy bring a number of benefits for students. She said that academic departments such as theatre, communication, occupational therapy and physical therapy bring in guest speakers and host conferences, which students can learn from professionals and build their network.
One such conference recently held on campus was the annual Indiana Thespian Conference that came to campus the weekend of Jan. 23. UIndy’s theatre department has hosted the conference numerous times in the past. According to Chair and Associate Professor of Theatre, Brad Wright, the conference came to campus annually at one time and now typically is hosted at UIndy every other year.
The conference is a learning experience for the high school students who attend and a leadership experience for UIndy theatre students who work the event.
“It was a valuable experience for the students to be the ones who know stuff, to have the knowledge and the skills that they can then pass on to the other students,” Wright said. “It’s a good supervisory experience.”
One of the main features of the event is a scholarship competition in which the high school students can audition for a college scholarship and show off their skills to the college representatives in attendance. Wright said that UIndy has scored some talented recruits from the conference. He said that it is good for the high schoolers to be able to see what UIndy has to offer through the conference and to work with UIndy students.
Beckmann also said that holding conferences on campus has benefits for students. She said that, in addition to the networking and recruiting opportunities, conferences can be valuable for students looking for jobs after graduation and for netting new donations.
“The more people that come to our campus and have a good experience, the better their opinion of UIndy,” Beckmann said. “The more we are able to have of that, the more valuable your degree is.”