photo of students enjoying a summer conference at Stanford University

There is nothing slow about summer for Stanford Conferences. Because of the university's abundance of beds, variety of housing and availability of services, Stanford is a popular destination for conferences and camps.

If summer is supposed to be a little slower than the school year in terms of work pace, no one told Stanford Conferences.

In fact, over the course of this summer, Phillip Gin, executive director of Stanford Conferences, and his 12 full-time colleagues welcome about 16,000 visitors attending 255 conferences and camps. While they are here, those visitors will eat about 550,000 meals.

"We also use bed nights to quantify," said Gin. "Bed nights are the number of nights a bed is full and indicate how long those 16,000 visitors are staying with us. This summer, we expect to have 145,000 bed nights."

Visitors include enrollees in the Education Program for Gifted Youth – the biggest summer camp or conference at roughly 1,500 – Great Books Summer Program, Digital Media Academy and sports camps for everything from field hockey to basketball to baseball.

Arrangements for each guest include everything from accommodations and meals to meeting rooms, parking, technology access and specialized emergency plans to ensure safety.

All this business means that Gin's staff swells by 14, as students are hired temporarily to support summer operations. In addition, Student Housing employs an additional 49 students and 240 temporary employees to support summer services. As many as 450 temporary employees help ready the buildings for the arrival of the first guests in June.

"The economic downturn put a slight damper on summer conference bookings last year, but the numbers appear to be heading back up," said Gin. The revenue earned by summer conference business allows Residential & Dining Enterprises to reduce the cost of housing and dining for Stanford students during the academic school year.

Compared with peer institutions nationwide, Stanford is a popular destination for conferences and camps.

"We do quite well compared to most of our peers," Gin said. "We can host quite a volume of guests because of our vast student housing stock. Not only does this campus have more beds than most, the variety of housing types allows us the flexibility to host a wide array of groups ranging from summer camps to adult executive programs."

In fact, a campus-based economic impact study recently done by the Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International showed that Stanford was on the high earnings end of institutions nationwide, with revenues as high as $10.9 million. The study was designed to show the national economic impact of conferences at member institutions.

"Stanford is an extraordinary place and the location here helps draw people to programs," Gin said. "The university's reputation as a premier research institute, paired with its rich history, incredible facilities and excellent services, make it a place people want to be. The weather and attractions of the Bay Area don't hurt us either."


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Forbes.com writer Pascale Le Draoulec posted a list of "The World's Most Beautiful College Campuses". Coming in at #6 - is Stanford University.

"Architects like Aaron B. Schwartz, Principal and Director of Perkins Eastman, an international design firm, praise Stanford for staying "cohesive" despite extensive growth, and for always respecting and staying loyal to "its initial design precepts." New additions like the Science and Engineering Quad manage to gracefully blend modern and technological elements with the timeless, elegant aesthetics of the campus' early California Mission Revival architecture. Architect Mike Evans lauds the campus' "continuity of materials, color and scale" over time. The campus also scores big points for its dramatic entrance via Palm Drive, its romantic Spanish red-tile roofs and myriad patches of green."