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September 26, 2003

Low staffing encouraged over winter break

Iowa State administrators hope to save $4,000 to $5,000 a day in utility costs over the winter holiday by encouraging minimum or no staffing in university offices that don't necessarily need to be open.

In a recent memo to deans, directors and department chairs, vice president for business and finance Warren Madden encouraged unit heads to be flexible in allowing employees to take time off over the holiday period (which runs from after commencement Saturday, Dec. 20, through Sunday, Dec. 28).

"This is a voluntary program," Madden said in the memo. "Within established policies, employees are certainly allowed to work if they choose.

"But we encourage department and unit leaders to be liberal in allowing employees to take vacation, leave without pay, compensatory time or consider shortened office hours over the holidays," he added.

Staff who wish to take time off over the holiday will need prior approval from their supervisors.

Some offices, especially small ones, may close entirely if everyone in the units wants to take vacation and the office supervisor and college dean agree the unit can be closed.

"We recognize this may reduce certain services during this period of lower activity; however, we believe this is acceptable given the budget circumstances the university continues to face," Madden said.

Units that are vital to the university's daily operations (including security, the power plant, animal care, snow removal and ongoing research projects) can't be closed, Madden said.

Unit heads in units that are closed should provide their deans or vice presidents information on who to contact in case of emergencies. Phone forwarding and messages, office signs and Web sites should be used to let clients know where to go for assistance.

Facilities planning and management staff should be notified at if a unit or portion of a building can be shut down during the holiday period. Facilities staff will cut back on utilities to unoccupied areas and notify the department of public safety about areas that generally are unoccupied.

Faculty and staff can help by turning down thermostats to 60 degrees in areas that will be unoccupied and turning off all nonessential items (such as computers, printers, fax machines and copiers) when they leave.

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