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Husky Haulers handle moving day with enthusiasm, strong backs
August 29, 1997

They hauled boxes, directed traffic, and answered questions. Many of them arrived on campus as early as 8 a.m. on Sunday.

Clad in distinctive hunter green T-shirts emblazoned with the legend "Husky Haulers," a group of 38 faculty and staff helped students move into residence halls, augmenting the ranks of more than 400 residential life staff and housekeepers working that day. They met with appreciation - and some surprise - from students and their parents.

The Faraci family of Old Saybrook circled uncertainly in the parking lot of Towers before receiving directions from Art Brodeur, special assistant to the chancellor. The family, bringing freshman Jessica and junior Jamie to campus, were relieved to know where to go. "It's wonderful," said mom, Joanne Faraci. "We've done this (moving in) with Jamie for three years and this is the best thing that's happened so far. We didn't know where to start, which building to go to."

Husky Hauler Preston Britner, a new assistant professor in the School of Family Studies, arrived just days before. "It's a good way to meet students and parents and get acclimated myself," he said. Britner, whose academic expertise is in the area of parent-child relationships, said he enjoyed "getting back into the mindset of students - realizing it's all fresh and new."

Eric Soulsby, associate dean of the School of Engineering, who was helping out at northwest campus, agreed. "It's a good connection with the students," he said. "It gives us a better perspective on what their difficulties are."

Soulsby, who was a freshman at UConn in 1973, said his own experiences of moving in were very different. "There was no one there to help then," he said.

Soulsby added that "what the students today bring with them is different from what we brought. They have a lot of electronic equipment - computers, VCRs, microwaves."

Emily Ryzak, a freshman majoring in civil engineering, was impressed that Soulsby, who also helps with orientation for engineering students in May, knew her name without asking.

"I thought it was great that faculty and administrators are involved with moving in," said her mom, Martha Ryzak of Cheshire. "It was also a real help," said Emily's dad, John Ryzak.

Not everyone accepted the offer of help. "Some, in the New England tradition, say 'We can take care of it,' but most people are surprised and very thankful," said Gary Kazmer, an associate professor of animal science, helping out at Hicks and Grange halls in East Campus.

The idea was launched during the summer break on the University's list-serve UCFORUM-L. The list-serve is an electronic forum for discussing issues important to the University community. Within days the idea attracted a large number of volunteers, including a number of senior administrators, among them Chancellor and Provost for University Affairs Mark Emmert, Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Dolan Evanovich, and Director of the Center for Instructional Media and Technology Richard Gorham, whose son Matthew - a freshman - moved in to Buckley Dorm on Sunday.

"It makes us a community," said Irene Brown, a professor of family studies who volunteered at East Campus. "That's what a community does. I've also met another faculty member I didn't know before. That's community building too."

The Walsh family was grateful for the help of Husky Haulers Irene Brown and Gary Kazmer. "They moved just about everything for us," said freshman Bill Walsh of Southington.

"We were very surprised to see the helpers," said mom, Janice Walsh, class of 1963, who lived in Sprague Hall when she was an undergraduate. She said the Walsh family's older children attended other colleges, where students helped on moving-in day. "It's a nice touch that faculty here care enough to help," said Ed Walsh. "It's an important message."

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu