Our residents and their interests are a rich resource here at University Commons. Committees made up of residents provide valuable assistance to the Board of Directors and the community in accomplishing the vital functions of the Association. They allow UC residents to participate fully in Association activities and the committee members, in turn, inform other residents of community plans and events.
Besides Committees, there are many special interest groups that have been formed. These are open to any resident wishing to participate. Occasionally a resident is a member of an outside club or group that wishes to use our facilities. Many groups have taken advantage of this opportunity.
A description of our committees and groups follows.
The art committee is responsible for formulating and implementing policies governing the choice, placement, and use of art in Houghton Hall and Woodbridge North and South. It receives and reviews loaned and donated works of art and selects those for display in common areas and keeps an inventory of the artworks in its possession (what is not hanging is kept in storage closets).
In addition, the Art Committee identifies artists and makes arrangements for exhibitions in the Woodbridge galleries, assists residents in North and South Woodbridge with selection of art for their respective floors and facilitates development of art-related educational programs and classes.
The University Commons Dining Program arranges catered meals, usually twice per month, on the first and third Wednesday evenings. The focus is on creating a social event to foster community, promote sociability, and lessen the burden of food preparation for residents. Most costs are met by the charge-back to residents per meal, with some additional funds from the general budget.
The committee of resident volunteers, with co-chairs appointed by the board, meets monthly to plan menus, evaluate potential caterers, and review feedback for residents. Co-chairs contact the caterers and also call in the final count from the sign-up sheets. Volunteers from the committee help with the set-up for each meal including making the centerpieces, assisting residents in finding seating, and, if needed, going through the serving line.
Dinners are frequently held following Five o'clock talks. Speakers can then become our dinner guests, and residents may have the opportunity to continue conversation at a speaker's table.
The Finance Committee consists of five members of the community with the Treasurer as Chair. It prepares budgets for approval by the Board, investigates investment opportunities for community funds, constructs solutions to financial problems when they arise, and performs other functions as requested by the Board to insure the solvency of our Association.
Responsible for developing and implementing policy regarding the University Commons library, the committee reviews, selects, and prepares all donated books for placement in the library. They maintain sections of the library for specific items and catalogue incoming books. Most books are donated. Those that are not deemed suitable for the library are donated to other organizations. Committee members take turns maintaining the library materials and checkout system. There is a display stand in which materials written by UC residents, or other items of interest, are displayed. Members maintain the library space.
The Community Communications Committee supports and promotes a “connected community” by providing multiple, complementary means for communicating and interacting with each other. The committee strives to bring our diverse and talented community together; to make everyone more aware of our common experiences as neighbors; to keep us informed about community business, events, activities, and to share individual stories and news.
The committee collects and organizes community-wide information about upcoming events, photos from past events, articles of interest, announcements, community documents, and resident stories and news. It then employs a variety of communication methods to reach our diverse community so that everyone can choose how to stay informed and connected.
The committee evaluates, implements and maintains appropriate technologies including our website and email templates to cover a wide range of topics, occasions, events, and stories. The website provides an archival reservoir of current and historical information, such as the newsletter and board minutes. The UC administrative staff are members of the committee and work together to coordinate publishing of materials.
We are working to evolve various communication tools so that they complement and enhance each other. For example, weekly email updates are being expanded to complement and highlight website news and upcoming events. The UC networking list is another example of a tool that allows each member to immediately contact others with requests, alerts, and coffee corner updates. Printed materials continue to be issued and are coordinated with online content availability.
In addition to current residents, the committee supports website access to prospective residents and the public, and ensures appropriate security and access controls.
The committee facilitates ongoing resident training in the use of relevant technologies and ensures residents are informed and supported.
The primary goal of this committee is to assure that prospective buyers understand all the advantages of living at UC. This task includes providing information on membership requirements, fee structure, community commitment, programs, volunteer committees, and community culture. A committee member might also meet with a realtor who asks for more specific information about the community.
Programs are an important part of life at University Commons. The Program Committee is responsible for identifying, reviewing and approving presenters for 5 O’Clocks and for some evening and weekend events. The committee welcomes suggestions for speakers and programs. The Committee also coordinates with other groups which offer presentations specific to their areas of interest.
The Community Director works closely with the Program Committee, coordinating scheduling and seeing to the many other details which contribute to a positive experience for presenter and audience.
This committee recommends policies regarding the use of both the craft room and workshop with a specific focus on the use of equipment in both rooms providing a convenient place where residents may have access to tools and equipment in a manner that is safe for the users and does not create needless liability risk.
The committee is responsible for equipping the craft and shop rooms and provides instruction in the use of equipment as requested. It works with staff to ensure that equipment is operational, and recommends repairs and replacement and oversees a list of workshop users that is maintained in the office. All users must sign a waiver.
The Social Committee plans and carries out various social activities. The committee identifies ways to establish and maintain a high level of social involvement within the UC community.
The Chair notes that the committee plans and facilitates special events such as Fourth of July picnic and New Year’s Eve party. These two events are the only ones that are singled out by the Board. The Chair recruits residents to chair these events. There is a practice of having a Labor Day picnic or similar event as well; in some years there has been a Memorial Day event. If residents volunteer to chair Labor Day or Memorial Day events, they will take place.
The Chair has begun a process to recruit annual event chairpersons to commit to two years as chair. This approach alleviates the task of continually looking for chairs.
Another committee responsibility is to oversee Common Time. The Chair periodically hosts a themed Common Time, such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, poetry readings or joke night; in addition, she encourages residents to share their cultural heritage with their own themes and stories.
Common Time is a self-sustaining program. The Common Time coordinator, who is a member of the Social Committee, ensures there are written instructions for Common Time and for the resident hosts who volunteer each Friday. The coordinator recruits volunteers to sign up for turns as hosts and maintains the inventory of wine, beer, and soda, as well as paper and plastic supplies. The coordinator collects and maintains the collection and disbursement of the Common Time “kitty” fund of money to which residents contribute.
The Welcome Committee chair visits each new resident shortly after move-in to communicate the welcome and best wishes from the University Commons community. She delivers the Welcome Bag of small goodies, mostly edible, at that visit.
She introduces the new residents at social events that they attend, such as Common Time and lectures.
The chair hosts a cocktail reception in her unit two or three times a year for the most recent new residents and organizes the guests and table seating at the resident dinner following the reception. She is available for new resident questions.
The Wellness Committee plans and carries out onsite activities to enhance the continuing physical and emotional well-being of the residents. Examples include facilitating TAI CHI classes, library updates on wellness concerns, and helping with UC’s required emergency medical forms. The committee assists in presentations on wellness and advises on organization and policies for the fitness center. Additionally, it sponsors the annual influenza vaccine clinic.
We function as a committee that supports and encourages personal responsibility for ourselves as we age. We search to provide information to residents to enhance wellness in mind, body, and spirit.
This committee plans and carries out the biennial Asa Gray lecture including the special cocktail event that follows it.
These groups must have University Commons resident members who take an active part in running the group’s activities. The Board of Directors reviews permission for these groups to use University Commons’ facilities on an annual basis.
University Commons residents who have an interest in a specific topic or activity. Any resident may participate in any of these groups, such as:
With the advice and consent of the Board, the President may appoint a special group to deal with a focused, time-limited opportunity or problem. Ad hoc committees work within a defined time period and report directly to the President.