Summer Programs—hosting thousands, helping students and grateful moments

August 5, 2019

Summer is no longer a sleepy time at Yale; in years past it was a time for renovations and yearly vacations. Now, between commencement and early August, Yale hosts over 10,000 residential guests who come to campus for various summer programs that include: Exploration Senior Program (EXPLO), Yale Summer Sessions, and Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS)–just to name a few. In total, there are around 100 different groups that visit the campus each summer to take academic classes. Guests range in age from teenagers to adults and, while here, are all housed and fed in the residential colleges and Old Campus dorms.

It’s an extra busy time for the Facilities Services staff that supports these buildings. Working closely with Yale Conferences and Events (YC&E), Facilities runs the dorms akin to a hotel. Some groups host multiple waves of guests, in the residential colleges, for stays as short as five days. During the school year, these buildings house about 5,400 full-time students, and each building has a standard cleaning and maintenance schedule. In the summer, that number almost doubles and increases workloads as guests move out. Cleaning, and any necessary repairs, must be done before the next group moves in with very short turnaround times. In addition to the dormitories, ten dining halls are open, and many classrooms that would normally stand empty are in use. “In the summer, we act as almost a hotel service turning the rooms over as new guests arrive,” said Jeffrey Hughes, area manager, Yale Facilities Services

In the summer, we act as almost a hotel service turning the rooms over as new guests arrive.Jeffrey Hughes, area manager,
Yale Facilities Services

The Facilities staff works closely with YC&E services, who coordinate many of these programs. “We team with YC&E to ensure everyone is safe and enjoying themselves,” said Jeff. Facilities needs a large staff to accomplish this, including eight residential college superintendents, over 100 service and maintenance staff from Local 35, and temporary student workers.

Many of the visitors are high school students from around the world. For a large majority of them, it is their first time away from home and their first visit to the US. They have group leaders who give them a tour of the spaces, dining areas, and rest rooms. These leaders offer tips on things like quiet hours, how not to get locked out of their rooms, and bathroom etiquette.  “Every year, I watch the young students come in and look up and around inside the colleges - they are excited to be here and clearly impressed,” said Jeff.

Often, members of the Facilities staff interact with the students for various reasons, and this year was no exception. A distressed young woman, here through the YYGS program and staying in Davenport College, contacted the custodial team leader, explaining that she had accidentally thrown out all her money in a courtyard trash bin.

James Baker, Davenport’s superintendent, contacted Facilities Grounds Maintenance to open the Big Belly trash compactor. They soon discovered that “all her money” amounted to one dollar that was now covered with melted ice cream. The dollar bill was cleaned, and left on James’s desk for her to pick up the following morning.  One of his staff heard of the story and was so moved that the staff member added to the amount with his own money. When Sarah arrived to collect her lost money, and saw the how much was given to her, she started to cry. She was so apologetic for having had the team retrieve her money from the garbage, but explained how much that single dollar meant to her. James sat with her for a while and learned she was from Ghana, Africa.

Everyone involved was moved by the event. “I’m very impressed by my staff member who willingly helped this student. Everybody who helped realized, in that moment, how fortunate we all are. Also, I teach outside of Yale, and use that story to reinforce to my students about how grateful we should be about where we are,” said James Baker, superintendent, Pierson and Davenport Colleges and Athletics A.

Thanks to all the Facilities staff for what they do every day to support the University and help these students from near and far who visit the campus each summer.