Uncharted territory often looks like the scene that played out on Saturday, as about 1,000 students moved into the new Wolf Pack Tower in preparation for this week's NevadaFIT intensive academic boot camp.
The lines were long at times for the University's newest residence community, located in a newly-renovated, non-gaming tower not far from campus that had been part of the Eldorado Resorts property Circus Circus Reno. Following the July 5 explosion that left Argenta and Nye Halls uninhabitable for the fall semester, the University reached a nine-month lease agreement with Eldorado Resorts to secure the 1,300 student beds needed with Argenta and Nye closed for the coming academic year.
For the most part, the students who moved in on Saturday seemed to take the whole scene in stride.
"It's been a little stressful, but overall I thought the move has gone pretty smoothly," said Rocco Gallo, a freshman from Las Vegas who will be majoring in business. Gallo was in the lobby of Wolf Pack Tower, which on Saturday morning was full of students and their families waiting for the elevator to move the belongings into the new rooms. "This is a nice place ... very nice," Gallo added.
Taylor Johnson, a freshman from San Jose, California, who plans to major in psychology, described the scene as "pretty hectic."
"I'm excited and nervous," she said with a smile, adding that she hadn't had a chance to see her room yet, but that her roommate had sent her a video of her room. Upon seeing the video, Johnson said she liked what she saw. "It's a pretty cool room," she said.
Like many of the students who were moving into Wolf Pack Tower, Johnson said she was curious how all of the logistics for the coming semester would work out for the residents living in Wolf Pack Tower. The University will have shuttle service to and from the campus for the residents, and has also developed a first phase interim-dining facility on campus, known as "Howler Village." Howler Village, located in the courtyard between Great Basin Hall and the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center, will serve as the University's interim dining facility until a semi-permanent sprung structure is built later this fall.
"I'm sure they are going to figure out how they are going to trolley us around," Johnson said.
Emily Owensby, a freshman from Rocklin, California, who will be majoring in nursing, said the day was "hectic." She had earlier lost her Wolf Card and had to get a replacement. Nearby her father stood with his arms loaded with possessions for her room.
"I'd say hectic, but it has been exciting, too," she said, smiling. She gestured about the lobby of Wolf Pack Tower. "All of my friends are so jealous that this is going to be part of my story for my first year of school."
Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Carman was one of the dozens of University staff who were on hand to help and welcome the students. Carman noted that in addition to the students moving into Wolf Pack Tower, there were more than 2,600 students overall who were participating in this year's NevadaFIT. In addition to Wolf Pack Tower, NevadaFIT participants moved into on-campus residence halls as well on Saturday.
"This is about 1,000 of 2,650 (NevadaFIT participants)," Carman said of the scene at Wolf Pack Tower. "Every year the program continues to grow, which is remarkable. Last year we had about 1,600 students who participated. It's a program that has developed a reputation. It's part of the University brand now."
Carman said the work of Student Services staff, particularly University Residential Life and Housing, had been remarkable since the July 5 explosion.
"They've literally and figuratively rolled up their sleeves and helped make this day happen," Carman said. "We've got an incredible team working here today."
Carman said the move-in day for NevadaFit, though it presented challenges, actually was an excellent dry run for a campus which since July 5 had been immersed in planning alternative living, food and transportation options for the coming semester.
"NevadaFIT in some ways is providing us an opportunity to kick the tires on things, in order to work out some of the kinks," Carman said.
Nearby, sixth-year senior Wolf Pack football linebacker Lucas Weber, who was one of dozens of Wolf Pack student-athletes who were on hand to help the first-year students move their belongings into Wolf Pack Tower, clapped his hands together and exhorted his teammates to keep moving boxes and bins into the lobby for the new arrivals. Wolf Pack head football coach Jay Norvell was among the volunteers. He gave the fast-moving Weber and his teammates a quick high-five at one point.
"What else can we do help?" Weber said, heading for the parking garage with four of his teammates to help yet another group of students. "Let's keep working!"
It was uncharted territory. But the spirit of the day was undeniable.
"I have no idea how things are going to go," Gallo said. "I don't know what to expect when classes start. But all of this ... it's definitely very exciting."
A general University move-in will be held on Thursday. An opening ceremony welcoming freshmen students to campus will take place at 10 a.m. Friday in Lawlor Events Center. It will be followed by Pack Palooza, a first-year event from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. located on the Quad. The event will offer new students and their families free food and music; private bus tours of Reno; virtual reality experiences; collaborative art projects; fitness classes and more.
University fall classes begin Monday, Aug. 26.