Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Feb. 9, 1996

To close or not to close?

by Diana Pounds

With blowing snow and dropping temperatures come the calls. Are classes canceled? Is the university closing? In this interview with Inside, vice president for business and finance Warren Madden answers questions about campus closings and cancellations.

Who makes the call on canceling classes or closing offices?

President Martin Jischke makes the decision, in consultation with the vice president for business and finance, the provost and other university officials.

How do you decide whether to cancel classes or close the university?

We cancel classes or partially close the university only when conditions make travel extremely difficult or dangerous.

Because three-fourths of students live within a few blocks of campus, we are less likely to close than public schools, for example, which must bus large numbers of students.

Generally, when Cy-Ride is operating and streets and sidewalks are passable, we remain in operation. In extreme cold, such as the 50-below wind-chill temperatures that occurred Feb. 2, we may cancel classes because we believe it's hazardous for students to be walking outside.

Decisions to cancel classes or partially close the university are made after consultations with officials from the Department of Transportation, city of Ames, Cy-Ride, road maintenance staff and various law enforcement agencies.

What about those who believe it is dangerous to travel, even though Iowa State classrooms and offices are open?

Ultimately, it's up to each individual to determine if travel to class or the office is appropriate and safe. Individuals' circumstances vary, depending on how far they have to travel, their physical condition, the condition of their vehicles, even how well equipped they are with winter clothing.

We urge faculty to accommodate students who are unable to attend class during severe weather. We also ask that supervisors make similar accommodations for their staffs.

Why not err on the side of safety and close more readily?

Safety is our first concern, but a strong second is to provide students with a good education. Each canceled class is a lost educational opportunity. If we feel most students, faculty and staff can get to campus safely, we are likely to remain in session, counting on others to make good judgments about whether they ought to travel.

How do faculty, staff and students find out if classes or offices are closed?

All class cancellations or office closings will be provided to media and posted on Iowa State's World Wide Web homepage ( (Those checking the Web page are reminded to reload frequently to get updates.)

Operators answering the campus information number (4-4111) also will have up-to-date information. Even if university offices are closed, certain "essential" staff, such as those in food service, security, power plant, animal care, critical maintenance and snow and ice removal, must work. Those in doubt about their work status should check with their supervisors.

How can offices get the word out on cancellation of events or activities?

For help in getting announcements to the media and on the World Wide Web, call the ISU News Service (4-4777) during work hours and the campus information number (4-4111) after hours.

Do faculty and staff have to take vacation time or make up hours if the university closes offices?

Faculty, P&S staff and graduate assistants who are not covered by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and do not fall into the "essential" category described above should consult their supervisors and the university Office Procedure Guide.

Other staff should use comp time, vacation time or leave without pay, or arrange with their supervisors to make up lost time, pursuant to the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement or the policies outlined in the Office Procedure Guide.

Inside Iowa State
University Relations

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Revised 2/9/96