Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Summer is conference season at DU

When classes aren’t in session and residence halls are empty of students, DU’s University Events division goes into overdrive. The six-person conferences and events staff starts as early as October to book residence halls, plan meals and reserve classrooms for the next summer.

This summer, the University will host 41 conferences and events bringing some 3,800 people to campus. Attendees come from as far as Taiwan and stay as long as a month.

“We can accommodate most anyone,” says Melanie Eaton, summer conference program director, noting that buildings are equipped for persons with disabilities, and special meals can be prepared for vegetarians and those with allergies.

There are youth camps specializing in sports, music or academics as well as educational, environmental, religious, business and cultural organizations, which come to DU to strategize, learn or practice.

A handful of the groups meeting at DU this summer include the Center for Innovative and Talented Youth, Amnesty International and the National Science Bowl.

Meeting spaces range from small rooms to those accommodating up to 1,000 people. Altogether, DU’s facilities hold up to 2,750 people.

Filling those spaces is important, says Mary Kay Mauro, assistant sales and marketing director, because those facilities would be opened, lighted, air-conditioned and cleaned regardless. This way, the University is a better steward of its resources while bringing more people to campus.

Eaton says Sturm Hall is the most popular venue because groups can use large auditoriums and break out into separate classrooms. Nelson Hall, DU’s newest residence facility, is the most requested residence hall.

Mauro contributes an increase in rentals to a more proactive approach, including a concerted effort to reach out to hospitality organizers.

University of Denver students hired as front desk clerks for residence halls help keep conference attendees happy. The 35 student-employees work full-time for eight weeks, during which they’re provided free housing.

For Kaylen O’Donnell, student jobs as conference assistant and resident hall manager led to her full-time position as a meeting planner in DU’s conferences and event services with Eaton and Mauro.


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