Going back to school is typically associated with the end of summer: warm days, fond memories, and back-to-school shopping.  In the Gap office however, we have the heater going, excel memories, and we write about back-to-school shopping.  We are going back to school, but we’re not exactly packing our bags…though brown-bagging is encouraged.  Several weeks ago, we officially kicked off Gap University (GapU).  We wanted to create an environment to come together, share knowledge, and have FUN!  To that extent, our mission statement exemplifies what we aim to accomplish: GapU aims to build a strong and united community by sharing ideas and skills in a fun and creative way.

We wanted to create a structure for our university that is similar to that of any other, to include classes, sports, and social activities. We even have a Board of Directors, headed by Dean Sarina Dahukey and Associate Dean Gurpreet Kaur.  Our mascot: the fighting hedgehog.

Throughout the year, one hour classes will be held on a bi-weekly basis.  You might be wondering, who are the teachers?  If you work at Gap, you can be a teacher.  Everyone in the office has something to offer that they are particularly good at that they can pass on to others.  Essentially, it is a place for co-workers to share knowledge and learn something new, or strengthen existing skills, with an emphasis on having fun while learning.  Classes will focus on topics that are business-related, including presentation skills, client interaction, excel shortcuts, and company standards, as well as not-so-business-related topics like fishing, baking, and photography 101, which is scheduled to take place this Thursday with our resident photographer, Scott Peterson.

However, in addition to classes, GapU is also about connecting outside of the office.  To that extent, gappers will have the option of participating on sports teams, engaging in outdoor activities around the office, and attending social events after work.  In the next couple of weeks, an organized beach volleyball team will be assembled, followed by other sport teams as we head into summer and fall.  In addition, weekly or bi-monthly events will be created that do not require advance commitment.  Activities will include, but are not limited to, short walks around liberty station, lunch on the quad, and throwing the frisbee around (outside the office).  Lastly, social events will be scheduled once a month to wind down after work and talk about things not related to excel….or maybe things still related to excel.

Lastly, a website is in the works, where students can review the class schedules, find materials from past classes, browse teacher bios, and promote class spirit.  And speaking of class spirit, what could be more exciting than having a fighting hedgehog as the mascot (minus actually having a hedgehog).  He has yet to be named, a decision that will be made shortly by the student body, but I can only hope it will fall along the lines of Excel or Vlookup the Hedgehog.

Though we may spend all day together in the office, most of our time is spent having monitor tunnel vision.  Because we spend all day together, we should also find time to interact and come together as a community.  So pack your lunch gappers and prepare to share…Go Hedgehogs!