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Vocabulary for Parents: Speaking U of M

By Emily Lammers
English major, CLA 2013


College: When most people outside the University ask what college your student goes to, your answer would probably be the University of Minnesota. However, within the University, when asked for your student’s college, you would say it's the College of Liberal Arts or the Carlson School of Management, or one of the other colleges and schools that make up the University.

CBS: The College of Biological Sciences is one of only a few colleges nationwide that focus exclusively on biological science.

CCE: The College of Continuing Education was established in 1913. CCE’s primary audience is adult learners.

CDES: The College of Design encompasses the full range of design disciplines and is home to seven undergraduate majors, nineteen graduate degree programs, ten research centers, and the Goldstein Museum of Design.

CEHD: The College of Education and Human Development, founded in 1905, is the third largest college at the University of Minnesota and enrolls more than 5,000 students.

CFANS: The College of Food, Agricultural & Natural Resource Sciences is devoted to solution-driven science using critical and innovative thinking to make our planet a productive, friendly, and sustainable environment.

CLA: College of Liberal Arts, the largest college within the University, has a huge list of majors and minors from which students can choose to study, making this one of the largest colleges on campus.

CSE: The College of Science and Engineering, formerly known as the Institute of Technology, offers majors in astrophysics, chemistry, mathematics, several areas of engineering, and more. It is ranked among the top engineering and science academic programs in the country.

Carlson School or CSOM: The Carlson School of Management is a recognized leader in business education and research. Its focus on experiential learning, international education, and maintaining strong ties to the business community exemplify the school’s commitment to excellence.

Grad School: Short for Graduate School. The University of Minnesota offers more than 150 master's and doctoral degree programs in the sciences, arts, engineering, agriculture, medicine, and humanities as well as an increasing number of interdisciplinary programs.

VetMed: The College of Veterinary Medicine is recognized as one of the best veterinary schools in the country.

Colleges that may not use abbreviations: School of Nursing, Medical School, School of Dentistry, Law School, College of Pharmacy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and School of Public Health.

Office Hours: Hours in which professors or TAs (see below) are in their office when students can stop by and talk about a class or problem they would like to discuss. Each professor or TA is required to have office hours at a specific time at least once a week. Office hours give students the perfect opportunity to get to know the instructors teaching their classes.

Permission Numbers or Magic Numbers: These are special numbers that can only be received from professors and academic advisers. This number is given to students when they must register for a class that is listed as closed or full on the registration system, or if the student has a special circumstance. Magic numbers are limited and are unavailable in some classes. Magic numbers are coveted the first day of class, especially for language courses!

Syllabus: A detailed schedule for the semester given to students in each of their classes, the syllabus outlines what the particular class is covering, when homework is due, and when the exams and finals are scheduled. It also includes the contact information for the instructors and their TAs. Understanding the syllabus makes a huge difference in being successful in the class.

TA: An abbreviation for teaching assistant. This person is designated to assist the professor during class, and the job varies from teaching the discussion section to being available to answer questions. For many students, approaching a TA with questions is less intimidating than speaking with a professor.

Student Life

Convocation: At some universities, the term "convocation" refers to the entirety of the alumni of a college, but at the University of Minnesota, Convocation is a celebration during Welcome Week in honor of the start of a student’s college career. A special ceremony is held, followed by a celebration of pride and spirit. This lively event includes a welcome from President Eric Kaler and current students, dinner, free prizes, music, and an introduction to University of Minnesota history and tradition. This celebration helps new students feel at ease and meet new friends at the University

Greeks: Students of the University who belong to a fraternity or sorority. Many of these students are recognizable because they wear shirts with their Greek letters across the front. Most fraternities and sororities are social and cultural organizations, and some are professional organizations. Fraternities and sororities are official student groups and have a Greek adviser through the University. The Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life works with groups to ensure standards are met.

Homecoming: Homecoming is an annual celebration for students past and present with special events, including sports competitions, a concert, a parade down University Avenue, and a homecoming football game to top off the festivities.

MSA: Minnesota Student Association, the U's student government advocates to the University administration in addition to local, state, and national government on behalf of University of Minnesota undergraduate students.

Radio K: Radio K is the award-winning student-run radio station of the University of Minnesota. Radio K educates students, breaks ground in musical programming, and provides cutting-edge cultural coverage through specialty shows. Radio K serves listeners in Minneapolis and St. Paul and around the globe through online streaming and on four terrestrial signals: 770AM, 100.7FM, 104.5FM, and 106.5FM.

Row or Frat Row: This term refers to Fraternity Row, which is the part of University Avenue where most of the fraternity houses are located.

Spring Jam: Spring Jam is a student-planned event that happens every year during spring semester to celebrate warmer weather to come and may include a dance competition, student band competitions, and performances by multiple musicians.

The Minnesota Daily: Also known as "The Daily," is the campus newspaper produced by University students and read throughout campus. This free newspaper is one of the largest college newspapers in the nation and keeps students updated on local and current events. One of the most helpful sections is the classifieds, which provides a great way to find jobs or apartments near campus. The Sudoku and crossword puzzle are must-do parts of the paper for a majority of students. Interested in keeping up with what your student is reading? Read The Daily.

Welcome Week: During Welcome Week students reconnect with their advisers (whom they met during Orientation), meet fellow classmates, become familiar with campus, and are introduced to involvement opportunities.

Student Housing

CA: This abbreviation stands for Community Adviser, usually an upper class student who lives in the residence hall, supervising about 30-50 students. CAs are trained to help students with personal, social, academic, and all other general needs within the community. CA and security staff members are available during the evening hours and are trained to handle emergency situations and enforce general university policies and regulations.

CenTen: Is short for Centennial Hall one of the residence halls located on the East Bank. This residence hall is located on Delaware Street and is one of the four buildings that comprise the superblock.

Dorms: We don’t call them dorms. We call them residence halls, and they are where students live on campus.

FlexDine: An electronic form of money that is stored on a student’s U Card which can be used at many of the restaurants and convenient stores on campus. This money is part of students’ meal plans when they live in the residence halls, but FlexDine is not just for res hall students; upperclassmen can also put FlexDine dollars on their U Card and purchase coffee, snacks, or meals at Starbucks and other food venues on campus.

The Superblock: A block of four residence halls located on the East Bank. This block of residence halls is made up of Centennial Hall, Frontier, Territorial Hall, and Pioneer halls. Staying in these residence halls is a great way for students to meet tons of new people who live near them, and it’s a great way for students to find a buddy to walk with to class.

T-Hall: Is short for Territorial Hall, which is one of the residence halls located on the East Bank. This residence hall is located on Walnut Street and is one of the four buildings that comprise the superblock. 

UDS: University Dining Services prepares and supplies the food for all the residence halls and some restaurants on campus.

On The Web

One Stop: The University’s “can-do” website, a hub of online information for students, parents, staff, and faculty. One Stop will be one of your most visited University websites.

Moodle: Many instructors use the Moodle website to augment face-to-face courses, but it is also used to platform to conduct fully online courses. Professors can post course readings, assignments, and grades on the site as well as forum discussions.

MyU: MyU may be the second most important website after One Stop for your student. It provides information on the topics of academics and career, finances and living, health and wellness, and involvement and leadership.

SAFE U: The safety of students, faculty, and staff is of highest priority at the University of Minnesota. This website provides information on safety and security, public safety and the U, what students can do, and includes additional resources. It also includes information about TXT-U, the University of Minnesota's emergency notification text messaging system.

Campus Information

East Bank: One of the three areas that make up the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. The East Bank is the largest, and is home to the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Science and Engineering, some College of Design programs, some College of Biological Sciences programs, College of Education and Human Development, Graduate School, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Nursing, the School of Dentistry, the Medical School, the School of Public Health, and Fairview Hospitals and Clinics. This is also where most of the residence halls and Coffman Union are located.

West Bank: This area is home to the Carlson School of Management, the Law School, and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The West Bank also houses the Wilson Library and the Arts Quarter, which includes the music, art, dance, and theatre programs.

St. Paul: St. Paul campus is home to several colleges including the College of Food, Agricultural & Natural Resource Sciences, some College of Design programs, some College of Biological Sciences programs, the College of Continuing Education, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. It is also the site of the well-known Goldstein Gallery. Although this area is too far to walk from the East or West Bank, the University transit buses (See Transportation below) provide a free and quick trip (less than 15 minutes). Students into riding bicycles can use the Transit Way for a direct trip from the East Bank to St. Paul.

The Mall (also known as Northrop Mall): The Mall on campus refers to the grassy area that extends from Northrop Auditorium to Coffman Union. It’s a place where students can relax, sit, or play Frisbee between classes. It is located in the middle of the East Bank so it proves to be the perfect place to meet and chat with friends. And since it’s within reach of the University’s free wifi, it’s also a great study spot in fair weather. Take a look at the Mall yourself by viewing the live College of Science and Engineering webcam.

The Gopher Way: The Gopher Way is one of the most useful things on campus! With Minnesota’s cold winters, it is one way for students to keep warm. The series of underground tunnels and passageways connect and run underneath, over, or through many of the buildings. It helps to ensure that students make it to their class before being frozen alive!

Washington Avenue Bridge, also known as The Bridge: The two-level bridge over the Mississippi River connecting the East and West Banks. The upper level serves as a pedestrian bridge and has panels decorated by student groups advertising their organization to fellow students. The lower level of the bridge is dedicated to motorized transportation, including the not-yet-completed Central Corridor Light Rail line. This line will connect downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul and is expected to be completed by 2014.

Campus Buildings/Offices

Boynton Health Service: Also simply referred to as “Boynton,” this campus health clinic helps University students, faculty, and staff with any medical issues—dental, optical, physical, or mental. The main clinic is located on the East Bank next to Coffman Union, with a smaller clinic in Coffey Hall on the St. Paul campus. Boynton offers many other health-related services such as free stress management workshops, yoga, Tai Chi, and body toning.

Coffman Memorial Union: Coffman, sometimes called the University’s living room, is the University’s main student union and is located on the East Bank on Washington Avenue. This is a great place for students not only because it's a great place to study and has a 65-unit computer lab, but it also has a variety of entertainment options. Coffman houses a bowling alley, a movie theater, pool tables, an arcade, a huge snack bar, and a nightclub called “The Whole.” Students can grab a snack or meal at restaurants such as Baja Grill, Chick-Fil-A, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Starbucks. In addition, Coffman includes services such as a post office, TCF Bank, U card office, the main University bookstore, the Office of Information Technology Tech Stop, and second floor offices for student groups. This is a good place to hang out between classes and a safe place to go and have fun during the evenings.

Northrop Memorial Auditorium: Northrop, the University’s historic, ornate auditorium hosts spectacular dance seasons and great speaker series as well as many other shows and performing arts. It is also the home for many commencement ceremonies. In 2011 the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota gave final approval for the revitalization of Northrop. The construction continues to move forward with a grand opening anticipated in April 2014.

One Stop Student Services Center (Registrar's office): The One Stop website is helpful if students need to look up their academic records such as transcripts, Academic Progress Audit Reports (APAS), enrollment certification, student fee refunds and waivers, or financial aid and billing information, but sometimes students need to speak to someone in person. Student services centers are located on the third floor of the Science Teaching and Student Services Building and on the first floor of Williamson Hall, both on the East Bank. Students can also go to offices in the West Bank Skyway and in Coffey Hall in St. Paul.

St. Paul Student Center: The St. Paul Student Center provides students on the St. Paul campus with dining options such as Subway, Papa Johns, and the Terrace Café. The center also houses printing and postal services as well as a University Bookstore, bowling, and game room.

Weisman Art Museum (also known as WAM or “The Fred”): A modern museum and gallery, the Weisman has become a Twin Cities architectural landmark. Named for Frederick R. Weisman, the building was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. The museum features American art and a series of special art exhibitions. Located next to the Washington Avenue Bridge, the building is sometimes said to look as though it’s covered in aluminum foil.

Off Campus

Dinkytown: Dinkytown is an area north of the East Bank of campus with many restaurants, bars, coffee shops, theaters, and most importantly, metered parking spaces.

Housing neighborhoods: Students tend to find their first apartment or off-campus house in neighborhoods near campus, including Southeast Como, Marcy Holmes, Prospect Park, Seward, Saint Anthony Park, and Falcon Heights.

The Quarry: The nearest shopping center to campus, the Quarry includes the mammoth stores: Home Depot, Rainbow Foods, Office Max, PetSmart, Famous Footwear, Party City, and last but most important for every college student, Target! Students also frequently do their shopping in downtown Minneapolis or east of campus on University Avenue, which are sometimes more convenient if your student uses public transportation.

Stadium Village: Another area adjacent to the University, Stadium Village is just east of the East Bank. Named for its close vicinity to the original “Memorial Stadium” on campus, it is now conveniently located near the current TCF Bank Stadium. Stadium Village has plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, convenience stores, and more metered parking.  


Rec: Short for the Recreation Center which is located on the East Bank and in St. Paul. In other words it’s the workout gym where a valid University ID gets your student in. The Recreation Center on the East Bank is currently under construction as a new climbing center, lobby, café, elevated indoor track, multiactivity courts, and an expanded fitness center are added. The expanded University Recreation Center is scheduled to formally open in the fall of 2013.

Goldy: Goldy is the school’s mascot. This gender-neutral critter is a large gopher. Go Gophers!

The Barn: Home of the Gophers basketball teams, Williams Arena is also known as The Barn. Other athletic teams compete at TCF Bank Stadium, Sports Pavilion, Mariucci Hockey Arena, Ridder Arena, the Aquatic Center, and sports fields at many locations on campus.

General Student Information

Gopher Guide: A calendar/planner produced by the University of Minnesota that contains important University dates, coupons to businesses near campus, and other helpful campus information. Not only is it useful for writing down homework assignments and tests, but it also lists final exam dates and holidays to keep students on schedule. It is available at University Bookstores.

U Card: The student identification card allows students to enter the Rec, the residence halls (if you live there), the cafeterias, computer labs, and other secure buildings and laboratories. It doubles as a library card, can be used as a TCF bank card, and FlexDine is also applied to the U Card. Money can be put on this card electronically and used in all of the campus vending machines, as well as used in the printing labs. This feature is useful because students don’t have to carry cash, and it reduces the amount of cards students have to carry in their wallet. Another bonus of having this card is that many movie theaters and other businesses give student discounts as long as you show your U card!

University Bookstores: Bookstore locations include Coffman Union, East Bank and St. Paul Student Center, St. Paul.


Bike box: An intersection safety design. It is a box on the road with a white bicycle symbol inside it. Motorists must stop behind the box and no right turns on red at these intersections. Read more about "bike boxes".

Bike Share (Nice Ride): Nice Ride is a public bike-sharing system with the city of Minneapolis. Besides parking locations on campus, students can park at kiosks downtown and uptown in Minneapolis.

Campus Circulator: Campus Circulators are user-friendly mini-buses that cover a specific area, including one that covers the East Bank area and one that covers the St. Paul campus area. When winter temperatures drop into negative digits, your student will appreciate knowing the Circulator routes.

Campus Connector: Not to be confused with the Campus Circulator, the Connector provides direct bus service between all areas of the University (East and West Bank and St. Paul). If your student lives on the East or West Bank, but has class on the St. Paul campus, he or she will undoubtedly use the Connector (which is free!).

HOURCAR: HOURCAR is an on-campus car-sharing alternative to owning your own car.

Light/Commuter Rail: The Hiawatha Light Rail Line offers fast, quiet light-rail service to nineteen stations between downtown Minneapolis and Mall of America. Dozens of bus routes are timed to connect with trains at Hiawatha Line stations, making it easy to get to work, shopping, or wherever you need to be. The Northstar Commuter Rail Line offers service between Big Lake and downtown Minneapolis, stopping at stations in Elk River, Ramsey, Anoka, Coon Rapids, and Fridley. In June 2014, the Central Corridor Light Rail Line will connect downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul through the Minneapolis campus.

Sharrows: Sharrows are roadway markers typically (but not exclusively) used on roads that are popular with bicyclists but lack right of way for conventional bike lanes. See an example of a sharrow.

Transit Way:  The Transit Way is a direct route from Minneapolis to St. Paul. Only bicycles, buses, and emergency vehicles are allowed on this roadway. The estimated bike time from Williams Arena (East Bank) to Veterinary Medical Center (St. Paul) via the Transitway is 20 minutes.

U-Pass: This is a deeply-discounted, metro-area transit pass provided by Metro Transit. This is especially useful if you work off campus or don’t have a car. The great thing about this pass is that it can be used anytime even if it is not school related.