Housing and Dining Services
prepare for 14,000 guests
By Laurie Mellas Ramirez
After the UNM student residence centers exodus in mid-May,
the heart of the student housing district beats even faster
as UNM Housing and Dining Services gears up to host more than
14,000 people representing 120 local and national groups.
Conference Guest Services Manager Dennis Weber says academicians,
cheerleaders, solar car enthusiasts and others will live from
days to weeks on main campus to take part in conferences, workshops,
training camps and student orientations.
For many its their first experience on a college
campus. Its a good way to showcase the university,
Weber said. The groups are required to have some educational
context so it fully supports the mission.
Conference Services is a one-stop shop charged with arranging
overnight accommodations, three square meals, event catering
and meeting and classroom space. In sharp contrast to local
hotel peak rates, rooms are made available for a nominal fee.
Some adult groups prefer to stay in apartment style quarters,
while youth groups enjoy a taste of dorm life, he said. Most
meetings and classes are scheduled in Hokona Hall, the student
residence commons building, and Johnson Center.
From late-May through mid-August more than 70 staff are employed
to maintain housing and classroom facilities. La Posada Dining
Hall staff cooks up more than 120,000 meals. Five current UNM
students serve in management positions and another 40 are hired
to staff a front desk and provide security.
The students do a wonderful service as ambassadors. They
have a lot of interaction with the guests. Some students are
returning for a third or fourth summer of working conferences,
said Weber, who is on call 24/7 throughout the season.
The students arent the only repeat performers; many of
the groups schedule visits to UNM each year. UNM student orientations
welcome more than 200 parents and youth each week for 14 weeks.
Other regulars include Duke University students at work on research
projects and Western States School of Banking, which has been
sending guests for some 20 years.
The National Cheerleaders Association will send 950 to train
at UNM this summer and the La Raza SW Conference boasts 250
participants. More than 500 enthusiasts will speed into town
for Solar Car Challenge 2003 and another 550 attend the Special
Olympics conference. Other large events include the Boys
Basketball Camp and Flicks on 66 festival.
Conference Guest Services can also arrange for meeting room
space during fall and spring semesters. For more information,
call Dennis Weber or Liz Gallegos at 277-5896.