International House Berkeley

I-House Times Spring-Summer 2015

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International House at UC Berkeley is an 85-year-old social enterprise with a remarkable mission. A global residential and learning community with a focus on advancing a world of greater respect, tolerance, and understanding, I-House strives to accomplish this task in its historic facility that requires constant upgrades and improvements to remain competitive as a viable student housing option. Given full occupancy and regular turnover due to the high mobility of its residents, I-House must run its operations smoothly in order to maintain its financial standing as a stable independent organization. What this comes down to is providing great service in the face of constant change and numerous challenges. e change is most often found in the ongoing need to upgrade and improve the historic facility. Built in a different era with an antiquated set of facilities standards, student needs, wants and technological underpinnings, I-House must translate the standards of that era into the desires of students in 2015 and beyond. e challenges are encountered in meeting resident needs responsively and consistently. Honoring our past but also dealing proactively with the challenges of the present is clearly the key to our future. Effective operations of a community like I-House requires maintaining a sense of balance between revenues, expenditures, and the variety of tasks that are undertaken to keep the facility in top shape. We need to bring in enough revenue to keep our doors open and our staff compensated in such a way that the setting is an attractive and appealing home for our residents. If we skimp in any area – whether it's the serviceability of our renovation projects, repairs, or the quality of our food service – we know that we will eventually feel the displeasure of our constituencies. Accordingly, we have to find that sweet spot where we bring in enough resources to keep everything running at an attractive, yet efficient level of service. My belief is that this works best when we have a strong sense of cooperation and support among students, staff, and alumni who all understand that we can't have everything that we want but we'll get most of what we need if we keep an eye out for one another's interests. For the staff's part, I can say that we come to our roles each and every day with a mindset that we are here to make our residents' experiences the absolute best that this special environment can possibly provide. Offering this kind of conscientious service is what motivates me in my role as Executive Director and which guides me as decisions are made about priorities and pursuits. I trust that years after our residents' I-House experiences are over, they will look back and see that they received just what they needed from their residencies here and perhaps even a bit more to make their stays in Berkeley all the more meaningful and memorable. An I-House experience tends to stick with one for life, and we hope that despite the ups and downs of residency here, our alumni will say that the overall experience was indeed one of their fondest university- related, personal memories. Here's to an even more memorable and impactful future. n Hans C. Giesecke, Executive Director Hans Giesecke has served as Executive Director of I-House since July 2012. His role is to harness the great past tradition and service of I-House to improve the present and make the future even better. 2 International House Times Executive Director's Message Hans C. Giesecke, Ph.D. We Are Listening The multi-million dollar Dining Commons Transformation Project is the largest single renovation to our historic home to date and requires an orchestrated effort by the Board of Directors, staff, construction crews, architects, donors and residents to work together to ensure the project's success. During the past six months of construction, we've received a tremendous amount of feedback, especially from our residents. Working with the Resident Council and key staff members, resident concerns and suggestions were addressed at weekly construction meetings, Board meetings and at two resident forums. We learned from their comments, which resulted in several construction changes and a substantial increase in the dollar amount and number of residents receiving discounted residential fees. In our interim dining facilities at the Field Club at California Memorial Stadium, our Food Service Manager Maureen Spolidoro displays and responds to each and every comment card, making note of popular dishes, adjusting ordering and planning fun new theme meals. We'd like to hear from you! Check out the Dining Commons Transformation page on our website or come join us for a meal and let us know what you think. Contact our Alumni Relations office at (510)642-4128 or e-mail us at What is it precisely that makes I-House operate well? Resident Council members, Board of Directors and staff receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the Dining Commons Transformation Project

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