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June 27, 2005

Conference season gets under way on campus

By Louise Donahue

Not long after thousands of UCSC students head home for the summer, a new batch of residents begins arriving.

Summer is conference season, and the campus is rolling out the welcome mat for 11,000 visitors this summer. The visitors will attend 70 different conferences or camps, learning about everything from Charles Dickens to cheerleading.

Some of the groups have been making UCSC their summer home for decades, but 12 groups will be on campus for the first time, said Martha Keeler, Colleges and University Housing Services assistant director for conference services.

"We have an 85 percent return rate," Keeler noted. "UC Santa Cruz is a very popular destination. Everybody loves to come to such a beautiful campus." All the activity is good news for UCSC's bottom line, bringing in an estimated $4 million gross income to campus.

The visitors come in all ages and from around the world. The University Extension Japanese English Language Program, for instance, has been bringing middle school and high schoolers school age youth to campus for 20 years to experience American culture and learn English.

Cheerleaders make up a large part of the younger summer visitors, Keeler said, adding that nearly 500 cheerleaders attend some of the camps. Participants in other sports--from soccer to water polo--are also well represented.

Music is another major draw, with participants in all ages. Soundwall Music Camp, a rock music camp for youth, will be on campus the same time as the Mandolin Symposium, an adult program featuring renowned artists teaching technique, history and theory of mandolin music in bluegrass, swing, jazz, and ethnic formats.

Academic conferences are also a mainstay. One of the best known is the Dickens Universe, celebrating its 25th anniversary at UCSC this summer. New this summer is the Nearly Normal Galaxies conference, hosted by UCSC’s Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Additional information on UCSC conferences is available online.

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