By Melanee Terry
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we visit public places and, in the Campus Center at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Lydia Kieffer-Till, Victoria Butterfield, and Lisa Udasco have helped members of campus continue to use the building safely. As a popular area at UMPI, the Campus Center is a building frequently visited by many students, faculty, and staff members. Through lots of collaboration and patience, Victoria, Lisa, and Lydia have been key contributors to the building’s success this past school year.
Victoria has been an Administrative Specialist in UMPI’s campus store and mailroom for 3 years. Her job consists of ensuring that all mail going through the Campus Center is collected and distributed to students, faculty, and staff members. Victoria also assists with reserving and renting campus motor vehicles for the campus community. She oversees the entire Campus Store and helps keep fresh inventory available for UMPI’s community online and in the store.
Lydia is the Campus Center Director and she oversees all building operations, including conference room rentals at the university. She works with faculty, staff, students, and the local community to reserve space for meetings and events. Lydia works alongside Victoria to help run the Campus Store and its production, as well as with Lisa Udasco, an Administrative Specialist who helps with conference operations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every building on campus, and the Campus Center is no exception. The building’s events are now virtual, which was possible due to the addition of Zoom and other online interfacing services in several rooms. The Campus Center is not hosting community events at the moment, but academic classes are currently being held in the Multi-Purpose Room. Students who take classes in the MPR are still able to socially distance and follow CDC guidelines due to the room’s large size.
“We have been advocates for safe protocols on campus. We have been supportive of the new testing protocols and, because we have so much contact with students, we have encouraged students to also be testing and mask-wearing advocates among their friends and teammates,” Lydia said.
A main area of the building includes the Campus Store, which both Victoria and Lydia collaborate on. The store currently has an efficient online website and ordering system that allows the public access to many products, including clothing and novelty items. The Campus Store has social media pages, which keep people updated with what is happening. The mailroom is continuing its pick up and delivery services, so students, staff, and faculty members can safely receive their mail.
“Our Conferences, Campus Store, Mailroom and Motorpool departments have developed safety protocols including spacing out rentals to allow for extra sanitation practices, ensuring 6 foot distances between seating and standing areas and providing additional cleaning wipes for folks to wipe their own areas, laptops, etc,” Lydia said.
Although the pandemic has in many cases resulted in people staying home and away from others, the Campus Store is still continuing its sales. On-campus sales are no longer the same with the current campus restrictions, but online sales are filling the gap.
Lydia, Victoria, and Lisa work very closely with their work study students. The students have hands-on jobs in the store and in the conference department. They have been flexible with their schedules and have followed each protocol put in place. Despite the challenges, the work study students have continued their hard work throughout the school year.
“Our students have been incredibly resilient and flexible in these unusual times,” Lydia said. “Transitioning to completely online classes and programming has been difficult but all of our work-study students have adapted without hesitation.”
Along with their work study students in the building, the team of three appreciate every student that frequents the building. Whether they are going to class, getting Starbucks, or picking up their mail, the women look forward to every student interaction they have. As a central hub on campus, Lydia knows the importance of having students in the Campus Center.
“We work with a number of students around campus with work study and student clubs. Additionally we see all of the on-campus students who send and receive mail. We LOVE our students and often check in on them to see how they’re doing outside of work and school,” Lydia said.
The Campus Center team has adapted to every regulation or restriction that was put in front of them. They were able to continue their work, while following every protocol. Working in the Campus Center gives them many opportunities for interactions with students, faculty and staff, which they are very grateful for. Despite the changes to campus life this past year, Victoria, Lydia, and Lisa have been able to make the best out of their year. The women have shown resilience and perseverance this year, making them Owl Heroes in UMPI’s community.