The Pace on Campus May Slow, but Story Ideas Abound

Summers are slow on college campuses. After the build-up to commencement, everything seems to come to a crashing halt. Most students return home or take jobs. Faculty and administrators go on vacation. How does one keep an institution’s brand in the public eye during this period?

Take a look around at what’s going on and what makes it different. There are students on campus, but they might be high school students enrolled in enrichment programs or summer workshops. Professors can devote more time to research during the summer break. Find out what they are up to and if they have new papers being published in major journals.

There are stories off campus to tell, as well. Your students might be enrolled in study abroad programs or working in distant lands on projects sponsored by prominent NGOs. They might be conducting field work with a faculty mentor or engaged in an undergraduate research experience at a major university on the other side of the country.

Every year a delegation from Shimoda, Japan, seen here with relatives of Townsend Harris and college librarians, visits City College to pay homage to Mr. Townsend, who helped open trade between Japan and the United States. Photo by Ellis Simon.

Summer is also a time when people who normally aren’t around come to visit, sometimes from afar. At City College, each year a delegation led by the mayor of Shimoda, Japan, would come to pay homage to Townsend Harris, the college’s founder, who also was instrumental in opening Japan to trade with the United States. That annual ritual piqued the interest of New York Times reporter Clyde Haberman, a CCNY alum, who wrote a feature story on the pilgrimage.

Most important, highlight the impacts summer programs have. Enrichment programs can steer students, especially those from disadvantaged communities, onto new pathways, such as exploring opportunities in the STEM disciplines. I was privileged to have my first formal journalism training at summer workshops at Ball State University in Muncie, IN, some 700 miles from my Long Island home.

College campuses serve also as laboratories for the visual and performing arts, where projects are transformed from rough cut stones into polished gems. An example is the Williamstown Theatre Festival on the campus of Williams College. Earlier this month, we saw a production there of “The Closet,” a new comedy starring Matthew Broderick, and had the opportunity to give feedback to the writer, director and cast.

Enjoy your vacation. You earned it. But, summer isn’t an excuse for your news feed to become dated. Stories abound. You just have to look for them.

Things might be slow now; but be ready for what’s coming. In just a few weeks the corridors will be a lot noisier and you’ll know “they’re back.”

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