Environmental studies classmates Nicole Love and Jesse Jewell were walking toward Scarborough Library Monday afternoon, the first day of classes for Shepherd University’s 2012 fall semester.
Both are entering their senior year. Love, from Fort Ashby, W.Va., and Jewell, of Frederick, Md., are studying resource management and aquatic science, respectively.
More than 4,400 Shepherd students, residential and commuters, freshmen and returnees, jammed the sidewalks, buildings and classrooms Monday as they oriented or reoriented themselves to campus life.
“I’m looking out my window,” said Shepherd President Suzanne Shipley. “We’re packed. I’m thrilled at the excitement out there among all those students and faculty. This is a great time to be on campus. It shows that we’re using the state’s resources the way they’re supposed to be used.”
The financial office and the ad/drop desks looked particularly busy Monday morning as students sought help with last-minute financial and class- scheduling problems.
Meghan Layton, 25, of Hagerstown, a family and consumer science major, was at the ad/drop desk trying to verify how many credits she needs in her adolescent development class to “make sure I can graduate in December.”
Mary Gyorko, 28, of Inwood, W.Va., a junior, is commuting to Shepherd for the second year in pursuit of a degree in accounting. “I transferred from Virginia Commonwealth University,” she said.
Alissa Hardy, 23, also of Inwood, is in her first year as a full-time, four-year degree student at Shepherd, where she’s pursuing a degree in social work.
“I have a two-year Board of Governors degree in liberal arts and another from Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in business, but not all those credits will transfer here,” she said.
Hardy was headed for the financial office.
Major ongoing construction projects — the second arts center on the eastern edge of the West Campus and the pedestrian underpass at the west edge of the East Campus are under way in spite of the first day of classes.
The arts center project has caused little disruption in everyday campus life. Not so with the underpass.
Civilian vehicular traffic detours around the construction site on North Duke Street on temporary roads. Students crossing between campuses must cross over on high street at its intersection with Duke until the underpass opens.
The construction has moved Robert Maraugha, the university’s colorful crossing guard, from Campus Drive to the High Street intersection.
The change of venue did little to dampen Maraugha’s enthusiastic style as he directs vehicles coming at him from four directions through the intersection and students who jam the High Street crossing.
“I’m Navy trained,” Maraugha said as he waved cars through. “I got it under control.”
His instructions to drivers and pedestrians range from slight scoldings to high praise: “Hold up there, Darlin’.” “C’mon. C’mon. C’mon.” “Thanks for your patience.” “Just give me a minute here.”
Love and Jewell said the walk up High Street to cross the campus is not a big deal. “It takes a few extra minutes to get around, but I’m glad they’re building the tunnel thing,” Love said.
Shelli Dronsfield, chief of staff in Shipley’s office, said the original budget set in September for the underpass project was $4.15 million.
Since then, the West Virginia Division of Highways stepped in and insisted on several structural modifications to the storm drain system and retaining wall that raised the cost to $5.65 million, Dronsfield said.