The grades are posted, the regalia and final exams have been graded and put away, and the student dorms are silent. There are actually open parking spaces on campus at 8:30 a.m.
That’s what happens when MTSU goes on winter break.
The university is closed from 4:30 p.m. Dec. 23 until 8 a.m. Jan. 3, when offices reopen for the new year.
While students and faculty are snug off campus until mid-January, a handful of university staffers keep the place running, preparing for the spring 2012 semester.
As one year ends and a new one begins, the campus is more quiet and crews have more elbow room to clear out and update facilities like the McWherter Learning Resources Center because former occupants have scattered to other on-campus locations.
The Media Library, Music Library, University Computer Lab and Graduate Multimedia Development Center, for example, will be temporarily housed in two sites across the Quad in the James E. Walker Library, while Creative and Visual Service and Photographic Services are finally sharing space in the renovated Fairview Building just off campus.
In the Bragg Mass Communication Building, the new Center for Innovation in Media is being prepped for its future opening.
The old Wood, Felder, Gore and Clement dorm sites are now dirt and are being readied for the planned new Science Building, which remains at the top of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s priority list.
Work in heavy-traffic areas also can take place during this rare downtime. The ongoing road construction along MTSU Boulevard between the Business and Aerospace Building and the east entrance to Kirksey Old Main, as well as work on the new Student Union Building, will take quick breaks on actual holidays.
But the buzz of heavy machinery will be almost ever-present on the otherwise quiet campus.
A handful of students stay on campus during winter break, but they’re protected by the Office of Public Safety, which uses this brief time as an opportunity for more training and planning to continue keeping the university secure.
In short, it may look quiet and peaceful on campus without the bustle of nearly 30,000 people, but MTSU never really sleeps. It’s only preparing for the next semester and the best ways to serve students and the community, and “winter break” is no exception.
Gina E. Fann works in the Office of News and Media Relations and manages content for the university’s news website, MTSUnews.com.