Dairy Bar Ice Cream: Udder-ly delicious

Chris Brodeur

By Chris Brodeur

UConn’s Dairy Bar and its ever-growing list of tantalizing frozen concoctions is about as secret as a National Championship.  Students, staff and visitors alike flock year-round to the little brick creamery located on the hilly outskirts of the Storrs campus to grab their favorites.

A Dairy Bar patron always leaves happy, but additionally, thanks to some measures Assistant Manager Jackie Patry instituted when she took over day-to-day operations in 2006, any customer can leave having learned a little something.

Patry, having studied agriculture and animal sciences at UConn as an undergraduate, started a tradition with her employees that prepares them for any inquiry a curious cone drone might pose.  The answers to, ‘Where does the milk for the ice cream come from?’ and ‘How often are UConn cows milked?’ are at any Dairy Bar staffer’s disposal.  As part of their training, they must visit the Kellogg Dairy Center, where the dairy herd dwells, and try their hand at milking a cow.

“We say here that our ice cream goes from cow to cone,” Patry said.  “One of the frequently asked questions from customers is, ‘do you really use your own milk for all your products?, and the answer is ‘yes’.  I figure by having [employees] go up there and actually milk a cow, they’ll never forget the answer to that question.”

Up close with bovines

And really, how could they?  The ritual begins with a walk-through of the Kellogg facilities where rookie scoopers learn the basics.  Two kinds of bovines provide the milk.  There are Holsteins – the traditional black and white spotted breed familiar to most New Englanders – and Jerseys, which are smaller, brown in color and generally more mischievous – the troublesome teenagers of the bunch as any Ag worker will attest.

Armed with rubber gloves, boots and an outfit to which they aren’t too attached (a restroom is always at a cow’s immediate disposal), employees make their way onto a platform that puts them at eye-level with a set of udders.  After treating each teat with an iodine solution to disinfect and stimulate the animals, they’re ready to attach a four-prong suctioning device that pumps the milk through a maze of tubes and tanks en route to a larger holding vessel for pasteurization.

A square device above each cow gives a digital read-out of its output that is tracked constantly.  A bar code scanning system makes data on each animal readily available.  After about an hour-and-a-half, Patry’s kids are stinky and quite possibly splattered, but also enlightened.

So the next time you drop in for some frosty goodness, test the person who takes your order.  You’ll find that everybody at the Dairy Bar is udder-ly attached to their work.

Want to learn more about the Dairy Center?

UConn’s Kellogg Dairy Center home page

Interested in those creamy delights at the Dairy Bar?

Check out their home page for flavors, hours and more.

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Creepy campus corner? New Storrs Cemetery is historic treasure trove

Entrance to New Storrs Cemetery

The entrance to the New Storrs Cemetery, located in the north part of the UConn campus. Photo credit: Mike Northup

Mike Northup

By Mike Northup

The Mansfield Burial Ground, now commonly known as New Storrs Cemetery, was originally deeded over on Aug. 25, 1862. Since then, the seven-acre burial ground at the north end of campus has served as a time capsule for the Storrs-Mansfield community, preserving the town’s rich history.

From University of Connecticut founders Charles Storrs – who deeded the land for the cemetery – and his brother Augustus, from local Civil War veterans to modern-day UConn professors, New Storrs Cemetery has been the final resting place for many of the most prominent figures in the community.

“It’s an open-air museum where you can go and mingle with the stories of those people that settled the area and brought you your present day world,” said Ruth Shapleigh-Brown, executive director of the Connecticut Gravestones Network, an organization that works to preserve and promote awareness of historic cemeteries in the state. “It’s the best way to close the gap of years and reunite oneself with the old days.”

RIP Chuck and Augie

The Storrs brothers and their immediate family are buried in a three-acre plot located in the Northwest corner of the cemetery at the top of the hill that ascends along the mile-long path. The obelisk monument for Charles and Augustus at the back of the cemetery overlooks campus and is tall enough to be seen from the black iron gate at the graveyard entrance.

“That was the family’s request when they donated it, that they be buried on top of the hill and separated from everybody,” said cemetery sexton Anthony D’Ambrasio, a member of the Storrs Cemetery Association, a non-profit organization independent from the town of Mansfield that cares for the cemetery. “All the descendants, if they wanted to, still can be buried there. Some are.”

Located a quarter of the way up the hill on the right, is a red stone obelisk monument for Edwin Whitney, a Civil War veteran whose local orphanage became one of the first buildings at UConn. Buried alongside the monument is his daughter, Edwina, who was the school’s librarian from 1900 to 1934.

Other notable people buried at New Storrs Cemetery include Benjamin F. Koons, who was the school’s principal from 1883 to 1898, and Xianshong “Jerry” Yang, a former UConn professor who in 1999 became the first stem-cell scientist to successfully clone a farm animal.

Not every grave is historic

D’Ambrasio, who is in charge of burials and plot sales, said that locals still choose to be buried at New Storrs Cemetery, which is one of seven cemeteries still active in the town of Mansfield. How many people get buried there depends on the season.

“This year, the spring was slow and last fall was a lot,” he said. So it’s really spring and fall that you get the most burials.”

Those who do choose to be buried at New Storrs Cemetery, however, will have their final resting place in one of the most historic locations that the UConn campus and town of Mansfield has to offer.

Click here for a list of all the cemeteries, both active and inactive, in the town of Mansfield.

Click here to see a list of graves in the New Storrs Cemetery, complete with photos and more information of each one.

To see a gallery of the New Storrs Cemetery, click the jump.

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At UConn, stop and study roses

Crystal Maldonado

By Crystal Maldonado

On Oct. 4, Jessica Simpson tweeted, “My godboy [sic] is very into horticulture.” If Miss Is-This-Chicken-Or-Tuna-Simpson knows what horticulture is, then shouldn’t the rest of the world know, too?

But that’s not the case at the University of Connecticut.

“Most people who talked with the Horticulture Club at [UConn’s] involvement fair didn’t even know what the word horticulture meant,” said Stephanie Ciparis, a horticulture major and the president of the Horticulture Club.

Julia Kuzovkina, Assistant Professor of Ornamental Horticulture, said, “Horticulture certainly has hit a low point in enrollment.”

Once one of the most popular majors at UConn, today it is one of the least; it’s become a bit of a secret among the 100 majors available at the college.

“It often seems like most people don’t even know we exist,” said Ciparis.

Horticulture major Richard Kramer agreed. “I don’t think many people even realize how much information we need to know and how much we have to learn to become successful in the profession.”

And that’s only part of the problem.

There’s science behind the beauty

Horticulture isn’t just about smelling flowers. The major focuses on the art and science of growing, cultivating, recognizing and marketing plants, according to Kuzovkina. Classes such as Plant Propagation have lab components, where students spend their time in one of the six damp, humid greenhouses located in the Floriculture building. Some classes even cover how to design and create new plants.

“Students learn how to improve the environment with plants,” Kuzovkina explained. “We can use plants to alleviate environmental problems, such as pollution.”

October is show time

Though fewer students are horticulture majors, those who are, like Ciparis, often work with the Horticulture Club as a means of gaining hands-on experience.  The club is responsible for the Horticulture Show, which takes place the first weekend in October at the same time as the school’s annual Cornucopia event. The Horticulture Show is more than 50 years old.

Inside of the Ratcliffe Hicks Arena, flowers, plants and trees line the makeshift garden created for the Horticulture Show. Photo credit: Crystal Maldonado

This year’s event began on Oct. 3 with a steady stream of visitors flooding the Ratcliffe Hicks Arena. Six dedicated horticulture students transformed the building from a dirt-encrusted animal barn to an elegant garden, complete with pumpkins, golden birch trees, a wooden archway and a fake pond.  Guests fluttered from soft pink knockout roses to mulberry mums, gazing in awe or offering to purchase the flowers.

But outside of the show, the story is different.

“Horticulture is underappreciated,” said Ciparis.

Colorful mums, available for purchase, line one of UConn's six greenhouses, all of which are part of the Horticulture program on campus. Photo credit: Crystal Maldonado

And not just by students. UConn doesn’t even ask horticulture majors for their opinions or ideas about plantings around campus, said Kremer.

“If UConn looked at us for ideas and possibilities for creating new gardens and plantings around campus, then, the UConn community would be different without the major,” Kremer said.

Ciparis said the work of horticulture students and the horticulture club is deeply rooted in tradition. “People expect to see [the Horticulture Show] every fall,” she said. “It’s weird balance – the community wants us. But UConn? Not so much.”

Want to explore plants at UConn? Try UConn’s Plant Database.

Interested in majoring in Horticulture? Other schools that offer Horticulture as a major: University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, Clemson University, Cornell University, Iowa State University, Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University, University of Arkansas and Virginia Tech.

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Depot Campus had past life

Outside of hospital building

Knight Hospital, which looks like something out of a Stephen King book, or a still frame from an apocalyptic movie. This didn’t function so much as a hospital, more of a training center like the rest of the grounds. This was still functioning in various ways until the year 2000. That’s when the ivy took over.

Maddie Ward

By Maddie Ward

To most at UConn, Depot campus is a virtual unknown. Although it is home to the Ballard Puppetry Institute and Museum, most k

now it only as a lonely quadrangle of buildings that entices urban explorers.

Peer inside the buildings: wheelchairs sit empty in the eerie silence of abandoned halls.

Paint is peeling and signs point the way to services that no longer exist. Though there are no markers, this was once home to an institute for the mentally challenged.

A place with many names

The school started life as the Connecticut School for Imbeciles at Lakeville. This was merged with the Colony of Epileptics in 1917 to become one of the largest institutions of its kind in the state.

In those days institutions were considered an effective solution to dealing with those with mental challenges. It was believed if they were corralled and given space to live in a colony, it would improve the ease of life, their condition, and keep them from being a danger to society or themselves.

In another incarnation, what is now Depot Campus was called Connecticut School for the Feebleminded. Later, it was called Mansfield Training School.

Primitive treatment

The treatment of patients was often primitive by modern standards.

The Depression and World War II brought a loss of staff positions and budget cuts, causing crowding and leaving dormitories full of people of all different ages, sexes, and conditions. At its height, the institution housed more than 1,800 patients.

At one point, some women patients were sterilized, a practice called eugenics. At the time, this was seen a humane answer to taking mental incompetency and criminal behaviors out of the gene pool. This practice was ended in the 1960s. At some points in the institution’s history, blind and deaf people, along with those whose behaviors were considered anti-social or delinquent, were housed at the school.

Fear of the patients

David O’Leary, an attendant at the school beginning in 1947, said in an interview with the Hartford Courant, “My indoctrination with Mansfield was, I was told, ‘Never let them touch you; they’re full of disease. Keep them at arm’s length’.”

Leary said he was told not to bring children’s books into the dorms. There were many who did not receive the individual attention they needed, and occasionally were placed in danger by being housed with more violent residents.

The Department of Mental Retardation later tried more progressive treatment methods and worked to change the school’s image.

In the 1970s and the 1980s many UConn students volunteered to work with the school’s residents, helping to socialize them and teach them valuable life skills.

A drastic change in philosophy of treating the developmentally disabled led to the school’s closure in the 1990s. Much of it has sat abandoned since 1993 when the school was officially shut down.

A new life for Depot Campus

When the former school became part of UConn, the property has become a peaceful place. It is the concourse for the K-9 Olympics in the summer. Raccoons have built nests in some light fixtures. UConn’s ornithology department is studying chimney swift nests there.

Some former dormitories have been renovated as classrooms. One of the most recent additions is an alternative learning program for some E.O. Smith High School students.

Further reading: A New York Times article from 1982 about the downfall of the institution.

To see a gallery with more photos from Depot Campus, click after the jump.

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Good Clean Fun

Lisa Mutnick

By Lisa Mutnick

So maybe getting drunk and passing out on the so-called rape trail is not exactly your thing. And maybe 50 cent pitchers at Thirsty Dog’s don’t tickle your fancy either.

Not to worry. Not all social activities at UConn involve alcohol.  Here are some ways to stay alcohol free and have fun, too.

The Student Union Board of Governors sponsors events every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For example, world- famous comedians perform at the Student Union Theatre on Thursday nights. The admission is free for students.

“The SUBOG comedy series enjoys regular attendance of 200 to 300 students per show,” SUBOG President Miguel Almodovar said.

Students can take advantage of performers such as Nick Swardson, of the Comedy Central show “Reno 911″ and the stoner cult-classic “Grandma’s Boy.” Performers in the past have included BJ Novak, of the Emmy Award- winning TV show “The Office” and James Smith.

Julian McCullough also entertained at UConn. In 2002, The Rutgers University alumni started hosting comedy shows at The Stress Factory, a popular New Jersey comedy club. He now opens for top name performers such as Dave Chappelle and has had his own comedy special on Comedy Central. People pay $30 or more to see him perform live. UConn students saw him do an hour of stand-up for free.

Getting out of town

Despite the on-campus action, most students feel the need to get the heck out of Storrs every now and then. Such a change of scenery can be achieved even when students do not have cars. SUBOG plans two off-campus trips a month and these are a guaranteed good time.

For example, a December trip to New York City costs a mere $10 per student including transportation. Students are able to find their own fun in the best city in the world, or for and additional $45 attend a Broadway show.

“We send two buses down to the city, each bus has about 40 students. This is our most popular trip,” said Almodovar. According to information on the Peter Pan bus company’s website, a round-trip bus ticket from Storrs to New York City is $70. Do the math and save by booking with SUBOG.

Scary fun at Halloween

For Halloween, UConn students can go on the Lake Compounce Haunted Graveyard trip.  The Haunted Graveyard is a lot scarier and more entertaining than the usual aftermath of an alcohol-soaked party.

The secret is out. There are fun and sober activities at UConn.

Interested in all the fun activities SUBOG is bringing to UConn?

Check out the SUBOG home page for a full calendar of events!

Here’s a video of Julian McCullough, one of the comedians that SUBOG has brought to UConn.


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Star gazing in Storrs; big sky in little buildings

UConn Planetarium

UConn's planetarium was built in 1954. It is the oldest planetarium in the state of Connecticut. Photo credit: Mike Northup

Kevin Vellturo

By Kevin Vellturo

It’s easy to overlook the planetarium. The smallest building on campus is enveloped by the overwhelming shadow of the ominous chemistry building.

The unassuming brick planetarium with its metal dome sits on the bank of Swan Lake. Countless people walk past every day dismissing it as just another nondescript building on campus, or maybe, (the ultimate insult!) a storage shed.

So much for public opinion.  Built in 1954, it is the oldest planetarium in Connecticut. It provides a unique and valuable service to the UConn community.

A one-woman show

Cynthia Peterson, a physics professor at the school for 40 years, runs the planetarium and does all the shows by herself.

“It’s awesome.  It’s a lot of fun to teach” Peterson said. “I’ve been so lucky I’ve been able to do it all these years.”

It’s admittedly a great deal of work. Peterson gives up to four one-hour shows daily. Yet four decades in she still enjoys the work.

“I love doing it, I don’t mind a bit,” Peterson said.

UConn students are only part of her audience. Outside groups also attend. Peterson includes planetarium shows in a summer camp she runs for younger children and groups such as girl scouts and adult education are frequent visitors.

Those star gazing frosh

The planetarium is most valuable, however, as a teaching tool. Peterson teaches an introductory astronomy class – a staple for freshmen needing to rack up general education credits – and a trip to the planetarium is a necessity.

“If you’re a botanist you want to look at the trees and if you’re an astronomer you want to look at the stars. You can even use this on a cloudy night.” Peterson said.

Along with the planetarium, which simulates the night sky, UConn also has an observatory, which allows visitors to view actual stars first hand. But that requires cooperative weather conditions.

In a large white dome that sits atop the physics building, the observatory holds sessions on clear nights at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Visitors are welcome. Just check the observatory web site before walking over, to determine whether the skies are clear enough.

Cosmos revealed

The inside of the observatory is not very impressive. Panels have begun to rust and fewer than 15 people can fit comfortably while waiting to look through the telescope. In fact when it switches azimuth, or alignment, the noise is almost cringe inducing.

Endearing drawbacks aside, the observatory provides views of extraterrestrial objects unlike any other facility this easily accessible.

Though most of the occupants are introductory astronomy students – doing three observing sessions a semester is required – there are some who return simply for the experience.

Want to learn more about the UConn Planetarium?

UConn Planetarium Home Page

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Freshman 15? or Freshman Fantasy?

Liz Connelly

By Liz Connelly

A college dorm dining hall is like a free buffet. A simple swipe of a student I.D. and the food choices are limitless. A full salad and sandwich bar leads to the pizza, burgers and fries section; next to the pasta and entrée of the day. A freshman’s nervous stomach can keep them away from junk food only so long.

As days pass and nerves dissipate, comfort can turn into hunger. The salad bar seems less appealing and a new student uses any excuse to head for the burgers and pizza instead.

“When students get to the dining halls it’s like a kid in a candy shop,” said Dennis Pierce, director of Dining Services at the University of Connecticut. “At home food is regimented, you eat what your parents buy and make. In the dining halls there are so many options, healthy or unhealthy. We are serving them healthy foods, they just aren’t choosing the healthy foods.”

Campus food myths

Nutrition experts say the “Freshman 15” – that inevitable gain of 15 pounds – is a myth. But the fact remains that almost every new college student fears it an believes it will happen regardless of their habits.

Dr. Nicole Mihalopulos of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah and Peggy Auinger and Dr. Jonathan Klein of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester, studied the issue. Their study found the college freshmen they followed and observed gained an average of 2.7 pounds throughout the year.

Want some Ex-Lax with that pizza?

As ardently as college students believe the myth about weight gain, they also believe another myth: laxatives are put into dining hall foods.

“Every year, about 3 to 5 weeks into the semester, the rumor starts up about laxatives in the dining hall foods,” Pierce said. “Freshmen have a huge issue with stress. Stress about schoolwork, stress about being away from home, and stress about making new friends. This stress can materialize into irregular bowel movements.”

So while four weeks into the semester it may seem like Ex-Lax was mixed in with the alfredo sauce, it’s probably the three midterms coming up that have students catching up on bathroom gossip.

The college lifestyle may be different, but it certainly doesn’t have to be destructive to one’s digestive system or metabolism. Instead of falling prey to the myths, students should take some age-old advice and not believe everything they hear.

Interested in what’s for dinner at UConn’s numerous dining halls?

Follow this link for menus, nutrition info and more courtesy of UConn Dining Services.

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