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Campus & Community

The Wizards Behind the Curtain

An Insider’s Look at How UMD’s Fall Magic Happens

By Sala Levin ’10

Clarice staff member places trim on purple couch

Backstage at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, costumers, carpenters, scenic designers, lighting experts and theater tech mavens spend the summer dreaming up what the upcoming season will look and sound like. Tim Jones, Clarice prop shop manager, places trim on a fainting couch for the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies’ production of “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.”

Photo by Madison Wells-James

Campus is waking up after a sleepy summer at the University of Maryland, and it’s not just more and more of our 40,000+ students arriving ahead of the start of classes Monday, or even all the parents stocking up on Terp merch to take home. Behind the scenes, staff members are loading up library shelves, prepping pools for swim classes and recreational splashes and ensuring that every Terp gets their first taste of a college classic: free T-shirts.

Join Maryland Today as we peek into residence halls, gyms, libraries and other corners of campus to check out the hidden world of fall semester preparations.

Staffers work in empty pool
(Photo by Madison Wells-James)

Standing in the Deep End: Every seven years, the swimming pools at Eppley Recreation Center undergo a process called white-walling, in which the pools’ walls are resurfaced to prevent erosion from chemicals in the water. For two days at the beginning of August, 173,698 gallons of water were drained from one of the instructional pools, allowing workers to get inside the structure. The pool will reopen on Aug. 27, after another two days of refilling, with one chilly caveat: The water can’t be heated for 30 days after the white-walling process is finished. (If you want to cool off this weekend, the Outdoor Aquatic Center is open.)

Student scans book in library
(Photo by Madison Wells-James)

Shelving a Hot Title: Student worker Susan Collard ’24 processes “Basic Biostatistics: Statistics for Public Health Practice” at McKeldin Library. The door stopper is part of the library’s Top Textbooks program, which offers students the chance to borrow textbooks from the university’s 100 most popular courses for four hours at a time. Some 500 individual books are available for students, and Terps are encouraged to donate their own used textbooks to the program, a no-cost alternative to buying expensive textbooks.

Staff member folds T-shirt
(Photo by Madison Wells-James)

Sorting at Stamp: Michelle Reese, program administrative specialist at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, folds T-shirts that will be distributed at Terps After Dark events. For the first six weeks of every semester, the Division of Student Affairs and partners host alcohol-free events like this Saturday’s Moonlit Music concert, featuring the Lorde-esque singer-songwriter Maude Latour. “We literally have tens of thousands of branded pieces that are going to be given out for Terps to feel a sense of belonging and identify as a Terp,” said Eva Quintos Tennant, assistant director of marketing and communications at the Stamp.

Staff member oils lanes at bowling alley
(Photo by Madison Wells-James)

Smoothing Out at TerpZone: As TerpZone gears up for its busiest time of year, one essential task cannot go undone: oiling the bowling lanes. The process gives expert bowlers better control and spin of the bowling ball; the first three-quarters of the lane is oiled, decreasing the friction, and the last third remains dry, to allow for more traction as the ball reaches the pins, explained TerpZone Manager Mike Golze. (For those of us who never break 100, it’s just a smoother ride to the gutter.) At each lane, Golze sends a drone-like machine toward the pins and back again, ensuring that the bowling alley is ready for the ever-popular Cosmic Bowling.

Resident assistants hang fire safety poster
(Photo by Madison Wells-James)

Sprucing Up Residence Halls: Resident assistants and Department of Resident Life staff are livening up residence halls to make sure students feel welcomed and at home. One focus is the lounge, that crucial center of connection. In Worcester Hall, RAs Adelina Rodrigues ’25 (left), Adam Handy ’23 and Von Sydnor ’23 add both a pop of color and important information.

Dining Services staff chops veggies
(Photo by John T. Consoli)

Slicing and Dicing at Yahentamitsi: Rosa Gomez (left), Dilma Martinez and Jakkie Robertson prep breakfast ingredients at the new Yahentamitsi dining hall, part of the Heritage Community that also includes residence halls Pyon-Chen and Johnson-Whittle. Terps can enjoy breakfast all day, as well as made-to-order stir fry, comfort food, gluten-free goodies and much more amid the facility’s 11 main food stations. Dining Services staff posts the menus from all three dining halls two weeks in advance at

Marching band practices
(Photo by John T. Consoli)

Stepping Up for Early Week: Associate Director of Bands Andrea E. Brown (foreground), Assistant Director Craig Potter, four staff members, four graduate assistants and three drum majors all help students find their rhythm during Early Week, the seven days before classes begin in which the Mighty Sound of Maryland tunes up for the year ahead. Practicing on Chapel Field, at the J. Logan & Louise Schutz Football Practice Complex, and inside The Clarice, members of the university's marching band learn the school songs, pregame, halftime and postgame performances, and all the other music they’ll be strutting along to at football games.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.