The Big 10

Feel like a stranger in a strange land? Get to know these 10 people, and you’ll never run short of friends.

Jeff Champagne
President, Associated Students of the University of Nevada

For every credit purchased at the University of Nevada, Reno, $2.84 goes to the student government. It may not sound like much, but after all the credits are tallied, associated student union president Jeff Champagne has about $900,000 in responsibilities. This money will go toward student-run entities such as clubs, on-campus concerts and capital improvements to the university. Installed in office in April, Champagne is in charge of the student senate, which decides where the money will go, resolves issues that may arise around campus, and speaks for the student body. According to Champagne, the senate meets every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the senate chambers at the ASUN. He says all students are welcome to join in the senate meetings and can influence the decisions that are made.

“These meetings are really cool for students,” Champagne says. “We are here for them. We will hear anything from requests to start campus clubs, which will receive university funding, to issues about registering for classes.”

Annie Flanzraich

The 2005-2006 school year will be Annie Flanzraich’s first year as editor-in-chief of the Nevada Sagebrush, which, dating back to 1893, is the university’s oldest publication. As a veteran to the paper—last year, she was the news editor—she knows how to serve the students.

“My job is to let students know what’s going on around campus, make them familiar with the people on campus and explain to them the issues that our campus faces,” she says. And, if last year’s controversies surrounding Michael Moore’s appearance and the investigation into animal abuse by the agricultural school are any indication of the future, Flanzraich has her hands full.

“Students come to us because we cover the news that will directly affect the student body,” she says. “The Nevada Sagebrush is really the only place on campus for unbiased news.”

But Flanzraich doesn’t want the paper to be associated solely with news. The last two seasons, Nevada’s basketball team has earned a spot in the national championship NCAA Tournament, and Nevada Sagebrush reporters and photographers were sent cross-country to cover the event.

“When something big like that happens to our school, we will be there.”

Jerome Maese
Associate Director of Residential Life

Jerome Maese, the associate director of residential life at Nevada, is a major figure in housing the 70 percent of incoming students who choose to live on campus each year.

Since the Millennium Scholarship was initiated in 2000, creating the largest influx of students the university has seen in its 136-year history, his life has been busy.

He was instrumental in getting Argenta Hall, Nevada’s newest student-housing development, off the ground in 2000, and he’s working on a living-learning community, which will house students in similar classes together.

“With the living-learning community,” Maese says, “students will see a more enriching academic and social setting than anything we have done before. It will include a series of social events based around interaction with the students and faculty they will work with.”

Maese also works with new-student-orientation programs each semester, which, he says, offer new students a chance to meet others without the specter of alcohol or drugs.

John Lilley
President, University of Nevada, Reno

University president John Lilley has one thing he wants every student to know as they come to the University of Nevada, Reno. “It’s no longer going to be called UNR,” he says. “Nevada is now the preferred nickname of our university.” In his five years at the helm of the university, he has had a hand in some of the biggest happenings the institution has ever seen. Besides securing funds for the futuristic new Matthews-IGT Knowledge Center, a partially robot-run library and campus meeting center set to open in 2008, he has also had a part in bringing a new student union and new science and math centers to campus, all of which will be open in the next three years. But, as he says, all his work does not happen behind the scenes. “I am very recognizable around campus because I always wear my kick-ass cowboy hat in the winter and my straw hat in the summer,” he says. “When students see it, I encourage them to come and introduce themselves.” He says the best places for students to see him out and about are at basketball games, campus speeches and concerts. “The best part of my job is meeting the interesting personalities on campus,” Lilley says. “There aren’t many dull minds on a university campus.”

Leonard Walker
Assistant Director of Financial Aid

For most students fresh out of high school, the point of going to college is to ensure a financially sound future. But, as Leonard Walker, the assistant director of financial aid says, “You have to spend money to make money.” That’s where his office comes in. Financial aid officers assist students in paying for college by finding them loans, grants and scholarships. According to Walker, the entire application can be done from your computer.

“You don’t even have to leave your house,” Walker says. “All the forms you need are on our Web site or are linked directly to it.”

But he has a warning for those looking for scholarships off campus. He says there are third-party businesses that, for a price, will help you find a scholarship.

“You shouldn’t have to pay for a free scholarship,” Walker says. “You can come and find the same scholarship money here for free.” This year, Nevada students received more than $58 million in assistance. So chances are, unless the Millennium Scholarship will get you by for the next five years, you will be included in this number.

Marie Stewart
Assistant Manager of the ASUN Bookstore

Marie Stewart, assistant manager of the ASUN Bookstore, may be in charge of selling students their textbooks, but she offers a warning to those about to write the big check. “Don’t buy books for a class until you have been to the class once,” she says. “That way you will find out if you really need the book before you spend the money.”

Advice on books is not all Stewart has to offer. Besides being the source for books for every class at the university, Stewart says the bookstore staff is a great resource for new students to ask for general information about UNR such as how to find your class, where to print out a course schedules and how to sell your books back at the end of the semester.

The bookstore is also a one-stop shop, with greeting cards, laundry detergent, magazines and great deals on a variety of electronics, made possible by an educational discount given to UNR students. According to Stewart, this discount also makes the bookstore the cheapest place in town to find iPods and, often, new computers.

Marika Dimitriadis
Coordinator of Student Information at the University Studies Abroad Consortium

Want to go to Costa Rica, learn how to speak Spanish and come back with your language requirements fulfilled? Talk to Marika Dimitriadis, the coordinator of student information at the Nevada’s University Studies Abroad Consortium. According to Dimitriadis, who has studied in Spain, Greece, El Salvador, Argentina and Mexico, fulfilling language requirements is only one of the benefits of studying abroad. “It is so important for students to do these days,” Dimitriadis says. “You can learn about another culture and get all sorts of academic credit out of the way.” She also says that many students travel abroad for a year in order to get a degree in another language. At USAC, Dimitriadis is in charge of getting students started with their travels. She helps secure visas and deals with foreign consulates, addresses parents’ and students’ questions and runs an alumni club for past USAC students. She says that about 300 Nevada students participate in the program each year, but that number is growing. “When people realize that student loans can be used to pay for this, they realize that they have to do it,” she says. “You can leave with no language skills and come back fluent in a new language.”

Melody Bayfield
Director of the Parking and Transportation Service

In the 22 years that Melody Bayfield has worked at Parking and Transportation services at UNR, she has seen everything from a disgruntled woman so angry about a parking ticket that she came into the Parking Service office looking for a fight, to a tricky student who thought his rental car gave him the presidential parking pass—good anywhere on campus. Some three weeks and 25 parking tickets later, he found out he was wrong.

Wild stories aside, as Bayfield says, she’s on campus to make life easier on UNR students.

In recent years, Parking and Transportation completed the West Stadium parking garage, which provides 1,650 spots to fill the void of some 800 spots taken by the upcoming IGT Knowledge Center and initiated the UNR motorist assistance program, which provides free help to UNR students in possession of a valid parking pass in need of a tire change, getting keys out of a locked car or jumping dead batteries. The service has also worked with the Circus-Circus Casino in getting 50 spots in their parking garage with a free hourly shuttle ride to campus and bus service that runs from Carson City to the university.

She encourages students to work with parking services, and, she says, her office will do their best to make your parking experience positive.

“Parking is a learning experience,” Bayfield says. “Once everyone learns the rules, they want to do the right thing.”

Steve Pomi
Director of Campus Recreation and Wellness

It happens to everyone. The beer, the cafeteria food and listless afternoons sitting around the dorms will add a new spare tire to the waistline. It’s the dreaded “Freshman 15.” But, according to Steve Pomi, the director of campus recreation and wellness, it doesn’t have to be that way. In his 15th year as an employee at Lombardi Recreation, Pomi says the goal of campus recreation is to offer students state-of-the-art fitness facilities and programs. From Pilates to intramural soccer and skiing classes, campus recreation probably offers it.

“Students coming in now have much higher expectations of what fitness facilities should offer,” he says. “We have to constantly upgrade our equipment and programs to be cutting edge on a national level.” The great thing about these programs, he says, is that they are all included with the $57 semester fee or offered as credit-based courses. But the highlight of the recreation system, Pomi says, is the outdoor-recreation program, which includes such classes as wilderness survival and whitewater rafting.

“These classes have definitely received the best feedback,” Pomi says. “They leave students with experiences they will remember for a lifetime.”

Susan Bender
Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars

Susan Bender, the director of the Office of International Students and Scholars, is a first-generation citizen of the United States. Born to Russian parents living in Germany, Bender has relatives all over the world. These familial ties sparked Bender’s interest in traveling and learning about other cultures. “A fish in water doesn’t realize it’s in water until it’s taken out,” says Bender, a recent recipient of the Fulbright Award for her work with international students. “Then it becomes acutely aware of the rest of the world.”

This world awareness ignited Bender’s desire to work with international students who come to the university. With about 750 undergraduate students representing 75 countries at UNR, this campus is a truly global community. Because of this, with the help of her staff, Bender helps prospective students secure visas to come here to study, overlooks international clubs designed to bring students of common nationalities together, and helps new international students deal with cultural differences and culture shock. “For anyone who has gone away to study in another country, they know how strange it is to get accustomed to a new culture,” she says. “We are here to help those students transition and enjoy their time here.”